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IAEA urged to get tough with Israel
The international nuclear watchdog has been urged to pressure Israel to come clean over its nuclear programme ahead of a visit by its
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2004 15:51 GMT
The IAEA's al-Baradei has not visited Israel for six years
The international nuclear watchdog has been urged to pressure Israel to come clean over its nuclear programme ahead of a visit by its chief to Tel Aviv.

Kate Hudson, chair of the London-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), said on Sunday that Muhammad al-Baradei should press Israel to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and open itself up to nuclear inspections.

 

Al-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will talk to Israeli atomic energy officials and cabinet ministers on Tuesday about plans for a nuclear-free Middle East.

 

Israel, which is believed to have up to 200 nuclear weapons, has a policy of "ambiguity" under which it neither confirms nor denies it has the bomb.

 

But Israeli analysts say Tel Aviv can only disarm once peace in the region has been established.

 

Israeli nuclear arsenal

 

"Absolutely nothing is being done about Israel's nuclear arsenal," Kate Hudson told Aljazeera.net.

 

"They are in blatant contravention of UN resolution 687 which calls for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East. But it doesn't look like that situation will change as long as the United States behaves as if it is Israel's protector."

 

"I don't think there is any proof that having nuclear weapons is a deterrent to conventional warfare.

The issue of Israel's nuclear arsenal needs to be addressed in order for there to be a Middle East peace settlement"

Kate Hudson,
CND chair

Hudson said the IAEA should treat Israel the same way it has treated Iran, which has recently been subject to stringent nuclear inspections.

 

But she rejected Israel's protestations that it cannot disarm until there is peace in the region.

 

"There are no other nuclear states in the Middle East," she said. "And I don't think there is any proof that having nuclear weapons is a deterrent to conventional warfare.

 

'Hypocritical'

 

"The issue of Israel's nuclear arsenal needs to be addressed in order for there to be a Middle East peace settlement."

 

Hudson added the whole approach to international nuclear weapons proliferation was "hypocritical".

 

Israel maintains an "ambiguity"
policy over its nuclear programme

"I would categorise its is a very selective approach. The US and its allies went to war on the mere suspicion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

 

"But everybody knows Israel has weapons of mass destruction and is in breach of UN resolutions and nothing is done about it."

 

She added: "The other great hypocrisy is that the pressure on countries like Iran and North Korea to open up their nuclear programmes is coming from states like the US and the UK which are themselves up to their necks in nuclear weapons."

  

Nuclear whistleblower

 

Al-Baradei's trip to Israel will be his first for six years.

 

The visit comes after two other critical trips this year - to Libya, which has disarmed its nuclear weapons programmes, and to Iran.

 

"There is no foundation for a change" since "the threat to Israel has not diminished much in the past five decades and hatred of Israel in the Arab and Muslim worlds remains intense"

Gerald Steinberg,
Israeli analyst

It follows the release from prison earlier this year of Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed to the world the extent of Israel's secret nuclear programme.

 

However, Israeli analyst Gerald Steinberg held out little hope for al-Baradei to make progress.

 

Steinberg, from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, said in a written forecast of the visit that Israel was not about to change its ambiguity policy and sign on to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.

 

Fears about Iran

 

"There is no foundation for a change" since "the threat to Israel has not diminished much in the past five decades and hatred of Israel in the Arab and Muslim worlds remains intense," he said.

 

Steinburg said Israel giving up its "nuclear insurance policy... would actually make the region more unstable" and Israel would not accept a trade-off "linking Iran's illegal nuclear programme with pressure on Israel to abandon its deterrent".

 

He added a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East "however distant, will become essentially unfeasible if Iran crosses the point of no return in its development of nuclear weapons".

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
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