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      US Targets Israel as Anti-Nuke Conference Begins

      US is working with both Egypt and Russia to rid Israel of its nuclear weapons, as part of a comprehensive plan to neutralize Iran’s nuclear power.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 5/3/2010, 2:38 PM / Last Update: 5/3/2010, 3:05 PM

      The United States is working with both Egypt and Russia to rid Israel of its nuclear weapons, as part of a comprehensive plan to neutralize Iran’s nuclear power.

      Reports of this nature are being reported in various news media. The Guardian (London) reports that the US and Russia have drafted an initiative to ban nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, while the Wall Street Journal says the Obama Administration is considering support for a “nuclear-free Middle East.”

      The Guardian adds that the proposal involves the appointment of a special coordinator to conduct exploratory talks with Israel, Iran and the Arab states, followed by a regional conference. It is to be a central issue at an anti-proliferation United Nations conference beginning Monday in New York.

      According to the Wall Street Journal report, the US is strongly considering opposing Israeli nuclear weapons more strongly than it ever has before. However, the US government has, at the same time, sent Jerusalem a message designed to calm Israeli anxieties on the matter, stating that the U.S. would not take such a drastic approach before it sees significant progress in the peace process between Israel and the Arab nations.

      Specifically, Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said the conditions are not right “unless all members of the region participate, which would be unlikely unless there is a comprehensive peace plan which is accepted.”

      Such a message is actually not very calming, in that it does not state that there must be “peace” before the U.S. would take such a position. Furthermore, it is widely felt in Israel that its nuclear potential is as critical for maintaining peace as it is during times of war.

      This may not be Israel’s official position, however – at least according to the Wall Street Journal. An Israeli source is quoted in the report as saying that Jerusalem’s vision is one of a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction, but that this must occur only as the climax of a peace process with all nations of the region.

      The UN conference, held every five years, is to begin with an address by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose nuclear program and soon-expected capabilities have thrown the region into turmoil. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also address the conference on Monday.

      “The last NPT conference in 2005 ended in collapse,” the Journal reported, “but U.S. officials said they have been laying the groundwork for this conference for nearly a year.”