IAEA Will Not Tie Israel's Nuclear Program With Iran, Sources Say

Diplomatic sources say a June meeting of the UN watchdog's board does not represent a changed attitude toward Israel's secretive program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency does not intend to compare Israel's nuclear program with that of Iran, diplomatic sources told Haaretz Monday, following a recent report that Israel's secretive nuclear activities may undergo unprecedented IAEA scrutiny next month.

On Saturday, a leaked copy of a restricted provisional agenda of the IAEA's June 7 board meeting lists Israeli nuclear capabilities as the eighth item, in what appeared to be the first time that the agency's decision-making body is being asked to deal with the issue in its 52 years of existence.

However, according to sources in Vienna, home to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the IAEA had not targeted Israel and did not intend to parallel Israel's nuclear program and that of any other nations, including Iran.

The sources added that the June meeting did not represent a change in IAEA policy toward Israel, saying that the Associated Press reports only gave the impression that such a link between Israel's and Iran's nuclear programs had indeed existed.

On Monday the Associated Press released a retraction of its report, saying that it, "relying on a diplomat and a former official, erroneously reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency for the first time put the topic on the proposed agenda of the IAEA board meeting next month."

In addition, an official IAEA statement published Monday said that, contrary to recent reports, the June session would not be the first time Israel's nuclear program would come into discussion by the UN watchdog's board.

According to the IAEA spokesperson, Israel' secretive program had already been discussed twice before by its board, in 1988 and 1991, before coming off of the agenda.

However, Israel's nuclear issue was brought up in the IAEA's general assembly almost every year since then, with Israel sitting in at those discussions.

The spokesperson added that the IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano had followed the guidelines of the most recent general assembly in September, of which he was obliged to report to the IAEA's board, saying the decision on the matter was out of his hands.

Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which means that the Dimona nuclear reactor is not subject to IAEA supervision, which Iranian facilities are.

However, Iran had been caught transgressing its duties to the IAEA on several occasions, by withholding information, blocking visits by inspectors, and was therefore declared as uncooperative with international obligations.