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Friday, May 19, 2006

Israel, U.S. at odds over nuclear treaty proposal

HaAretz is reporting that Israel is upset by a United States proposal to freeze the production of fissionable nuclear material. The draft, which was presented to the UN Disarmament Commission in Geneva, aims to "freeze" existing stocks of fissionable materials worldwide in order to keep them from expanding.

Israel is worried that the draft
might erode its policy of nuclear ambiguity and generate future pressures on it over its nuclear program. As a result, Israel made an unsuccessful last-minute effort to persuade the U.S. not to submit the draft for discussion.

Egypt, which has been waging a battle against Israel's nuclear program,
responded by demanding that the treaty cover preexisting stocks as well, and that it include a control and verification mechanism.

According to HaAretz, it appears unlikely that the treaty will be approved anytime soon.

HaAretz also reports:
Washington has also rejected Israel's request for an upgrade in its civilian nuclear status. Israel's ability to purchase civilian nuclear technology, including spare parts, is currently very limited, because in order to preserve ambiguity over whether it has nuclear weapons, it has refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Some 10 months ago, however, the U.S. signed an agreement to sell civilian nuclear technology to India, which has also not signed the NPT; and while that agreement has not yet been ratified by Congress, Israel was hoping that it could cut a similar deal.

However, the U.S. said that it is too soon to discuss Israel's request on this issue, since it requires thorough study by administration professionals first. The administration therefore asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not to raise this issue during his visit to Washington next week.


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