Israel has decided to opt out of a conference on the creation of a nuclear-free Middle East scheduled to take place in Finland, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
"This announcement was made on Wednesday in Vienna during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by the director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Shaul Horev," spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.
Horev originally cited the "volatile and hostile situation" in the region in explaining Israel's decision to stay away from the US-backed conference, which is scheduled to take place either later this year or early in 2013.
He reportedly told the IAEA meeting that a nuclear-free Middle East "will be possible only after the establishment of peace and trust among the states of the area, as a result of a local initiative, not of external coercion."
Earlier this year, Finnish representatives travelled to Israel in an effort to persuade officials to attend the meeting, which comes as the Islamic Republic continues moving closer to obtaining nuclear weapons and its almost daily vows to obliterate the Jewish state.
Netanyahu has been pressing President Obama to issue a sharper ultimatum for Tehran, but the U.S. administration has been unwilling to heed such calls and continues to claim that means of diplomacy and economic sanctions will be sufficient in deterring the hostile regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In an interview with Bloomberg Radio earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is “not setting deadlines” with regard to Iran.
Netanyahu responded by saying, "The world tells Israel 'wait, there's still time.' And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."
Meanwhile, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency admitted that the regime has “misled” IAEA inspectors “in order to defend the nuclear facilities and [Iran’s] achievements”
Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which governs and restricts the development of nuclear technology, though it has IAEA membership. Other non-signatories include India and Pakistan.