Netanyahu Thanks Kerry: U.S. Met Its Commitment to Israel Over Nuclear Issue

PM thanks U.S. for blocking a decision that would task the UN secretary general with convening an international conference on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone by March 2016.

John Kerry speaks to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference at United Nations
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, review conference at United Nations headquarters, April 27, 2015.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, thanking the U.S. for blocking a decision that would task the UN secretary general with convening an international conference on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone by March 2016. 

The decision was to be made at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference that closed Friday night in New York.

According to a senior Israeli official, Netanyahu told Kerry that the U.S. met the commitment it made to Israel in 2010 with regard to the nuclear issue.

Netanyahu told Kerry that he appreciates his and President Barack Obama's position as well as the efforts of the U.S. delegation to the review conference, which convened signatories to the Nonproliferation Treaty.

The U.S. has blocked the issuing of a concluding statement for conference, following objections voiced by Israel. The balanced final draft of the concluding statement was expected to task the UN secretary general with convening a conference on making the Middle East nuclear weapons-free by March 2016. Israel objected to the deadline.

According to the U.S., the statement wasn't issued because the members were unable to overcome disagreements on an atomic weapons ban for the Middle East. The superpower blamed Egypt.

After four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the pact, there was no consensus among its 191 signatories. U.S. Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller announced there was "no agreement" and accused some countries of undermining the negotiations.

Gottemoeller did not say which nations had tried to "cynically manipulate" the conference, though she accused Egypt and other Arab states of bringing "unrealistic and unworkable conditions" to the negotiations.

A senior Western diplomat was more blunt: "Egypt wrecked the conference. ... Egypt overshot the runway and has prevented the region from moving closer to a region free of (weapons of mass destruction)."

Egypt denied trying to wreck the conference.

Decisions at NPT review conferences, which are held every five years, are made by consensus.

Israel neither confirms nor denies the widespread assumption that it controls the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal. Israel, which has never joined the NPT, agreed to take part in the review meeting as an observer, ending a 20-year absence.