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Plans off for Middle East nukes-free summit

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Plans for a conference on a nuclear-free Middle East have reportedly been scuttled over disagreements between Israel and Muslim states.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, circulated a report among its 35 member nations saying that Israel has flatly rejected demands from Arab and Muslim states that Israel open up its nuclear facilities to inspectors, The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times reported last week.

That effectively quashes the plan, expressed at the end of a nuclear non-proliferation summit hosted in the spring by the Obama administration, that a conference on planning a Middle East nuclear-free zone take place within two years.

Israel maintains a policy of opacity on nuclear weapons, refusing to confirm or deny reports that it has up to 200 missiles ready to be armed with nuclear warheads.

The Obama administration, while pressing for the regional conference, also has stood by Israel’s refusal to countenance broader inspections until comprehensive peace agreements are in place.

Israel, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, reportedly allows inspections of some of its facilities but keeps others under wraps.

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