US officials reacted angrily today at the inclusion of Israel’s nuclear arsenal as a topic of discussion for the IAEA meeting, insisting that it was “untimely and uncalled for.”
The meeting is the first IAEA meeting to oficially mention Israel since 1991, and included several Arab nations urging Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Israel has repeatedly and angrily refused to be a part of the treaty or to submit its arsenal to any international oversight.
The discussion led to a pointed exchange between US and Iranian delegates, ending with US envoy Glyn Davies claiming that the inclusion of Israel’s nuclear weapons as a topic of discussion was a plot by Iran to “take the heat off” US pressure against their civilian nuclear program.
Davies added that the mere mentioning of Israel will harm the push for the nuclear-free Middle East, which the US at least nominally supports. Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that is a non-signatory of the NPT, and is also the only nation in the region with a nuclear arsenal.
A 2012 NPT Conference has been set up to discuss how to achieve a nuclear free Middle East. The IAEA has also asked for international help in convincing Israel to join the NPT.