JERUSALEM, Aug. 11 (JTA) — Israel has agreed to join global negotiations aimed at banning the production of materials used to make nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been urged by President Clinton not to oppose the efforts of a U.N. panel in Geneva to launch the negotiations. The premier said in a statement that while he would not oppose the talks, Israel still had “problems of principle” with any accord that would halt the production of plutonium and enriched uranium. Israel was the last of the 61-member United Nations Conference on Disarmament to agree to the negotiations. “We have made clear that our support for establishing the [negotiating] committee does not mean we are taking a position toward finalizing the treaty or its contents,” Netanyahu said in the statement. Israel is concerned that the treaty will call for verification procedures — which would mean that the Jewish state would have to open its Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev Desert to international inspectors. Israel reportedly hopes that if it does eventually sign the treaty, American officials would find a way to enable Israel to retain its policy of deliberate ambiguity regarding its nuclear capability.
Israel joins U.N. negotiations on nuclear material production