US official Rose Gottemoeller calls for Israel to sign non-proliferation treaty
Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem | May 08, 2009
A CALL by a US official for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has raised fears in Jerusalem that the Obama administration may be seeking to block the Iranian nuclear threat by sacrificing Israel's reported nuclear arsenal.
US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said this week: "Universal adherence to the NPT, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, remains a fundamental objective of the United States."
The US has quietly accepted Israel's nuclear ambitions over the years because the Jewish state's perceived vulnerability in the Middle East lent legitimacy to its desire for a "doomsday" weapon that could deter its enemies.
"In the past, there was an informal agreement by which the Americans looked the other way (regarding Israel's nuclear program)," said Uzi Even, a former Knesset member and a scientist who was involved in the program. "Now the US is breaching this agreement."
A senior official in Israel's Foreign Ministry said the ministry was "trying to verify" Ms Gottemoeller's statement, apparently meaning it was attempting to determine whether it meant a departure by the new US administration from previous policy. "In any case, it's baffling."
Under the treaty, only five nations are allowed to hold nuclear weapons - the US, Russia, Britain, France and China. All other signatories are obliged not to develop nuclear weapons.
Those that already have nuclear weapons are required to gradually rid themselves of them.
The only non-signatories in the world are the four countries cited by Ms Gottemoeller. India, Pakistan and North Korea have tested nuclear devices. Israel has not but is reported to have up to 200 nuclear warheads.
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US official Rose Gottemoeller calls for Israel to sign non-proliferation treaty | The Australian