Israel is citing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal as a precedent to alter Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) rules to construct its first nuclear power plant at Shivta in the southern Negev desert.
According to Platts.com, a leading web portal that tracks energy issues, Israeli officials said earlier this month that they would be looking to a US vendor to supply the nuclear reactor.
Since 2005, Israel has pressed the US to request a trade sanctions exemption for Israel in tandem with the exemption for India. Analysts believe that Israel is fighting an uphill battle and is unlikely to receive support from key NSG members.
On July 27, US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns stressed that the US was not going to suggest a similar deal with any other country in the world other than India.
"We've always felt of India as an exception…But we're not anticipating, in any way, shape or form, a similar deal for any other country," Burns stated categorically in Washington.
On August 3, Israeli Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was quoted as saying that in the next few months he would submit to the government a plan to build the nuclear power plant in Shivta.
"US and European officials said recently that they expect that Israel will continue to raise its request for a trade exemption with the US in 2008 assuming that the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, NSG, lifts sanctions on India, and that the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement enters into force," Platts.com, on its part, said.
In "off-the-record" presentations to audiences in the US, senior current and former Israeli officials have continued to support a lifting of NSG sanctions, underlining Israel's need for energy and its lack of domestic energy sources.
"They argued that the NSG, rather than making an India-specific exception to its guidelines, should adopt a so-called criteria-based approach. Under such an approach, the NSG could agree to relax its export-control guidelines for non-NPT states that meet specified criteria."
According to the World Nuclear Association, Israel currently has a 5 MW research reactor at Nahal Soreq near Tel Aviv under IAEA safeguards and another 70 MW French-built heavy water reactor at Dimona in the Negev, which is reportedly used for military plutonium production.
Israel, like India and Pakistan, is not part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime.