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Threat to Nuclear Ambiguity Policy on Agenda for Obama-Netanyahu Talks

The U.S.-supported resolution by 189 signatory-states of the Non-Proliferation Treaty calling for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East and international pressure for Israel to expose its nuclear capabilities will feature prominently in discussions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House on June 1. [Late note: As we go to press, there are reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu might return to Israel because of the Gaza crisis and re-schedule the Washington segment of his trip.] The American support for the review conference’s final declaration sent a chill throughout the Israeli administration, many believing new White House assurances that Israel’s “vital interests will not be harmed” by the new developments fall far short of keeping its policy of nuclear ambiguity in-tact. A recent statement of support-in-principle for the concept of a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was seen as a green light to other nations and source of grave concern to Israel, which had hoped the Obama administration would continue the same policy of its predecessor which declined to support the Arab-initiated attempt to expose Israel’s nuclear capabilities.