Daily Israel Report

Israel: Nuke-Free Zone in Middle East? Only With Peace

Israel favors a nuclear-free Middle East ‘eventually’ but only if other states make peace and recognize its right to exist, official delegate says.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/15/2009, 6:51 PM

Israel News Photo: file photo

Israel would agree to the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but only when there is peace between the region's nations, an official Israeli representative to disarmament talks said this weekend. Such an agreement had to be reached on the basis of free consent, he added.

"We would need peace, reconciliation and the recognition of every state's right to live in peace," Meir Yitzchaki, the Israeli representative to the United Nations-linked Conference on Disarmament, told Deutsche Press- Agentur.

While Israel favors the establishment of a region free of non-conventional weapons 'eventually', it would have to be part of the process and the other nations in the area would have to recognize its right to exist, Yitzchaki added.

Yitzchaki addressed the conference at the United Nations offices in Geneva Thursday and said
"We would need peace, reconciliation and the recognition of every state's right to live in peace."
that ongoing threats against the Jewish state, and the fact that other Middle Eastern states were actively engaged in proliferation and support of terrorism, did not allow for the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone at this time.

He added that Israel supports the convening of a multilateral regional forum for discussing the subject of nuclear arms.

Israel has not signed the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty and is widely believed to possess a significant stockpile of nuclear weapons, as well as the ability to deliver them by various means.

Nations including Turkey, China, Egypt and Algeria voiced their support of a nuclear weapons-free Middle East at the Geneva conference. Their delegates said that linkage between the establishment of a nuke-free zone and the peace process would undermine the non-proliferation system.