US yields to Arab demand to pressure Israel on nukes 28May10 May 29, 2010

Haaretz -  28 May 2010

The United States on Friday accepted Arab demands to pressure Israel over its atomic program as part of a pact among NPT members to aim for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

The 28-page Final Declaration was approved by consensus on the last day of the month long conference, convened every five years to review and advance the objectives of the 40-year-old NPT.

Under its action plan, the five recognized nuclear-weapon states – the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – commit to speed up arms reductions, take other steps to diminish the importance of atomic weapons, and report back on progress by 2014.

The NPT is intended to stop the spread of atomic weapons, though it allowed the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia to keep their arsenals while calling on them to negotiate on disarmament.

Sticking Points

The creation of a WMD-free zone would eventually force Israel to declare and abandon its atomic bombs. U.S. officials say such a zone could not be created without Mideast peace.

Israel, which like nuclear-armed India and Pakistan never signed the NPT, is presumed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies its existence.

The Obama administration changed U.S. policy by joining Britain, France, Russia and China in backing a Mideast nuclear conference while encouraging Israel to participate.

“We’ve got a strong draft that would strengthen all three pillars of the NPT – disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy,” a diplomat said.

Britain’s chief delegate, Ambassador John Duncan, told Reuters the draft text was “unprecedented” in its scope.

The 2005 NPT review collapsed after participants could not agree on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East and in the face developing nations’ annoyance with the United States for failing to meet previous disarmament pledges.
The 189 signatories of the global anti-nuclear arms treaty on Friday backed a declaration proposing a 2012 conference to discuss banning weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East.
The creation of such a zone could ultimately force Israel to sign the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abandon any nuclear weapons it has. But U.S. officials say this could not happen until there was peace in the region.

The U.S. said it “deeply regrets” that the final declaration agreed by the signatories of the treaty singles out Israel for not signing the pact.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher told a treaty review conference that Washington would work with countries in region to organize a successful conference on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

But she said the U.S. ability to do that “has been seriously jeopardized because the final document (approved by treaty signatories) singles out Israel in the Middle East section, a fact that the United States deeply regrets.”

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