Netanyahu to ask Obama to block measures over Israel's nuclear program
The prime minister will meet with the U.S. president at the White House on Tuesday, after the U.S. backed a call for inspection of Israeli nuclear installations at the NPT Review Conference.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask for clarifications about the U.S. position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference when he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
Review Conference participants decided that the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Sorek should be brought under the international inspection regime.
A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu will ask Obama for American guarantees to block any practical measures, including an international conference on the matter.
The Review Conference was held at the UN headquarters in New York. Its conclusions included a number of decisions that affect Israel: It called for an international conference in 2012 for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons; it called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear installations to international inspection; and it called for the appointment of a special UN envoy on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Saturday, sources in Jerusalem expressed disappointed over U.S. conduct on the matter. A senior Israeli official described the American behavior as "surrender and bowing to pressure."
The senior official said Israel has held intensive exchanges with the U.S. in recent days in an effort to foil the anti-Israel initiative, but the Americans chose to make a statement that fits the international consensus, even though this went against Israeli interests.
"We have explained to the Americans over and over that preserving Israel's security is the most basic precondition for progress in the peace process," said a senior Israeli official. "This decision will make it difficult for us to do this."
The U.S. administration announced after the conference ended late last week that it would not support an international conference on a nuclear-weapon free Middle East without coordinating with Israel. National Security Adviser James Jones said the fact that Israel was named in the concluding statements of the conference raises doubts about holding an international conference in 2012.
Jones said the U.S. would ensure that such a conference would take place only if all the countries feel secure to participate.
Israel said Saturday that it has no intention to fulfill the decision of the Review Conference to the NPT, which calls on it to allow international inspection at its nuclear installations.
"This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical," an official statement by the Prime Minister's Bureau read.
"It singles out Israel, the Middle East's only true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation. Yet the terrorist regime in Iran, which is racing to develop nuclear weapons and openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, is not even mentioned in the resolution. The real problem with weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East does not relate to Israel but to those countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT ) and brazenly violated it - Iraq under Sadaam, Libya, Syria and Iran."
Israel is not a signatory to the NPT and is therefore not obligated by the decisions of the conference. Nonetheless, the resolution was passed unanimously by the 189 signatories to the NPT that participated in the Review Conference.
The draft resolution that was accepted was an initiative of Egypt, which heads the largest block comprising 110 Non-Aligned states.
Israel did not participate in the conference since it is not part of the NPT, and the U.S. agreed to the final draft of the resolution following a threat by the Non-Aligned states that unless the Egyptian initiative was accepted they would veto any other draft and foil the conference.
The proposed 2012 conference is meant to include all countries of the Middle East, including Iran. However, it is doubtful whether Iran will agree to participate in the same conference as Israel, even though in an international nuclear disarmament conference held in Cairo last December, Iranian representatives and Israeli officials from the Atomic Energy Commission took part, and even conversed.
President Obama welcomed the decision of the conference, and said that there are balanced steps that will further the prevention of nuclear proliferation and the furtherance of peaceful nuclear energy. However, Obama also said that he is opposed to the singling out of Israel and is opposed to any step that will threaten its security.
Obama noted that the gravest threat to Middle East peace is if Iran does not abide by its obligations as a signatory of the NPT.