NPT Declaration to Name Israel

The US has agreed to a deal at the United Nations that would put pressure on Israel to join the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), according to Western diplomats.

Delegates in New York are concluding a month-long round of talks aimed at updating the NPT. Their final draft reportedly urges Israel to join the treaty and subject its nuclear facilities to oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The document also calls for the United Nations secretary-general to call a meeting of Middle East states in 2012, aimed at creating a region free of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

The United Nations is scheduled to vote on the draft later on Friday; Syrian and Iranian diplomats have both hinted they might not support it.

"We have a deal that everyone can live with," an unnamed Western diplomat told the Reuters news agency.

"Now the question, is will Iran do the right thing? Will they go against something the entire Arab League and everyone else here is ready to support?"

Opposition from either country would be enough to stall the agreement, because all signatories to the treaty are required to approve the changes.

A "WMD-free" Zone

Iranian negotiators want a provision requiring the five official nuclear powers – the US, UK, France, Russia and China – to establish a timetable to dismantle their nuclear arsenals.

The NPT is intended to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. It allowed those existing nuclear powers to keep their weapons.

"The five nuclear-weapon states cannot easily and totally ignore this legitimate request. If so, then the conference will not be successful," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said.

Israel is one of only three states which never signed the NPT, the other two being India and Pakistan.

It is believed to have a nuclear arsenal, though it refuses to confirm or deny its existence.

The 2012 meeting – on a "weapons of mass destruction"-free Middle East – could effectively force Israel to declare and dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Israel has said it backs such an agreement in principle, but only after signing peace treaties with other countries in the region.

The US had initially sought to block the provision; Washington has long shielded Israel from pressure to disclose the details of its nuclear program. But American diplomats eventually agreed to the provision to salvage the conference.

"The Arab group basically drew a line in the sand and said, this is as far as we can go in compromising. This language must stay, or we will not back the final document," Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey said, reporting from New York.

"[And] the United States was very interested in moving this agenda of non-proliferation forward."

Ellen Tauscher, the US under-secretary of state for arms control, said "the United States deeply regrets" that the draft pressures Israel to join the NPT.

If negotiators agree on a bargain, it would be the first successful NPT review meeting since 2000.
 
(Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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