View Full Version : U.S. Says Israel Never Violated NPT Because They "Never Signed" It

12-14-2007, 09:07 AM
US wants nuclear-free Middle East


Thu Dec 13, 8:38 AM ET

DUBAI (AFP) - The United States favours denuclearisation of the Middle East in principle, provided that a global peace has been reached there and control is imposed on Iran's nuclear capacity, the US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency told a debate in Dubai.

Israel, Washington's main ally in the region, is believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East with an estimated 200 nuclear warheads. It has, however, never formally acknowledged having an atomic arsenal.

US ambassador Gregory Schulte told the Gulf Studies Centre on Wednesday that "Israel never signed the (nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty, so never violated the NPT."

He added: "That said, the USA, Germany and other countries have called upon Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state."

Washington, he said, supported the "vision of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. We agree on that in principle."

Schulte said that in practice there had to be realism in how this could be achieved, adding there were two hurdles to consider.

"One is if we are going to have a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone it is going to have to go hand in hand with something that looks like a comprehensive peace settlement," he said.

Washington hoped this process had begun in Annapolis at the Middle East peace conference last month.

The other problem, he maintained, was Iran's nuclear programme.

"I think we have to be more worried about a nuclear weapons arms race in the Middle East than having a nuclear weapons-free zone," Schulte said.

The United States administration suspects Tehran has a covert programme to try to acquire nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Iran and recently undermined by America's own National Intelligence Estimate -- the consensus of all 16 US spy agencies.

In a shock report early this month, the NIE said Iran halted a nuclear weapons programme in 2003 and that US allegations about its atomic goals had been overblown for at least two years.

Tehran strongly maintains that its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes to which it has a right.