Nuke agency chief canvasses members on Israel


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog is canvassing the international community over how to deal with Arab demands that Israel dismantle its reported nuclear arsenal.

Yukiya Amano, who directs the International Atomic Energy Agency, wrote to its 151 member states asking how best to persuade Israel to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Egypt, backed by other Arab and Muslim nations, is pressing through the IAEA for Israeli transparency as part of the U.S.-led push to reduce nuclear arms, particularly in the Middle East.

Israel, which does not confirm or deny a nuclear weapons capability, has not signed the NPT.

U.S. and Israeli officials told the AP that Israeli transparency could only come subsequent to a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement.

It’s not clear what Israel’s obligations would be should it sign the NPT. The treaty requires states that did not possess weapons before its 1970 launch to abjure them; states that held the weapons before that year must gradually reduce stockpiles. Israel is widely believed to have achieved weapons capability by the late 1960s.

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