- Israel expressed its strong opposition on Wednesday to an Arab initiative,
supported by the Obama administration, to hold a conference that would debate
the possibility of a nuclear-free Middle East. The conference would take place
in Helsinki toward the end of 2012, or early in 2013.
Brig Gen (Res)
Shaul Horev, director of the Israeli Nuclear Energy Committee, said that the
idea was premature due to the "volatile and hostile situation" in the
area. Cited by Haaretz, Horev blames
Syria and Iran for the region's difficult situation.
Iran is creating
a "hollow impression" that it intends to cooperate, but the
international community's moves actually have had no effect on the Iranian
For Israel and
many Western nations, Tehran is building nuclear and enrichment plants to build
atomic weapons. Tehran claims that its programme is peaceful.
Iran has pledged
to keep its facilities open to the United Nations International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), but in the past, it has concealed some sites and tried to
mislead inspections. At present, the two sides are a stalemate.
This has pushed
the United States and other countries, including the European Union, to toughen
their sanctions against Iran.
Iranian and European
officials met in Istanbul recently. The EU said it was "useful and
An EU spokesman
said in a brief statement that it had been "a useful and constructive
meeting and an important opportunity to stress once again to Iran the urgent
need to make progress".
At present, Israel
is the only nuclear power in the region, although it has neither confirmed nor
denied its nuclear status.
Its nuclear programme
began with French aid and is centred on the Dimona nuclear research facility,
in the Negev Desert.
In 1986, a
nuclear technician at the plant, Mordechai Vanunu, provided details about
Israel's nuclear programme.
For this, he was
arrested, tried and sentenced to 18 years in prison. After his release, he lives
under important restrictions.