Talks on shoring up the global anti-nuclear arms treaty were on the edge of failure on Friday as the United States and its allies clashed with Egypt over a push to pressure Israel to scrap any atom bombs it has.
For a month the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have been meeting in New York in hopes of agreeing on a plan to shore up the troubled pact, which analysts say has been hit by Iran’s and North Korea’s atomic programs and failure by the nuclear powers to disarm.
The latest draft of a final declaration for the NPT review conference calls for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to organise a meeting of all Middle Eastern states in 2012 on how to make the region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as demanded by a 1995 NPT resolution.
The creation of a WMD-free zone would eventually force Israel to abandon any atomic bombs it has. The Jewish state, which like nuclear-armed India and Pakistan never signed the NPT, is presumed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies it. Israel is not participating in the NPT meeting.
In a radical departure from the previous US administration, President Barack Obama’s negotiators had agreed to join the NPT’s other four official nuclear powers — Britain, France, Russia and China — in backing such a conference while encouraging reluctant Israel to participate.