Israel’s prime minister has cancelled plans to attend next week’s Washington summit on nuclear security hosted by Barack Obama, the US president.

Binyamin Netanyahu made the decision after learning that Egypt and Turkey planned to raise the issue of Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal at the conference, a senior Israeli government official was quoted as saying late on Thursday.

Israel will instead send a delegation headed by Dan Meridor, the country’s Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister, to the two-day summit which begins on Monday.

The agenda is expected to include talks on how to secure loose nuclear material and prevent it falling into the hands of terrorists.

Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East but has never confirmed or denied that it possesses atomic weapons.

It has also not signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“The prime minister has decided to cancel his trip to Washington to attend the nuclear conference next week, after learning that some countries including Egypt and Turkey plan to say Israel must sign the NPT,” Reuters quoted an unnamed official as telling reporters.

According to Israeli media, Netanyahu’s chage of mind followed fears that countries attending the summit would try to shift its focus from nuclear terrorism to a concerted attack on his country’s presumed nuclear weapons capacity.

Earlier this week, announcing his initial intention to fly to Washington, Netanyahu told a Jerusalem news conference that he did not expect to face pressure over Israel’s nuclear programme.

“I’m not concerned that anyone would think that Israel is a terrorist regime,” he said.
“Everybody knows a terrorist and rogue regime when they see one, and believe me, they see quite a few around Israel.”

Netanyahu’s decision to pull out of the talks comes at a tense time in US-Israel relations, following a particularly frosty row over Israel’s construction of settlements in East Jerusalem and its approach to the Middle East peace process.

Obama and Netanyahu held talks on the issue at the White House last month, but failed to make any progress.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said that “Israel remains very sensitive about whether it does or does not possess a nuclear programme”.

Staying away

“However, when Israel attends any international forum, it is very happy to take the floor and talk about Iran’s nuclear programme, and warn the world about what it sees as the ‘Iranian nuclear threat'”, she said.

“But when other countries discuss Israel’s nuclear capabilities and how they see it as a problem, it could be embarrassing for the prime minister to be present, which is possibly why he has decided to stay away.”

Although the gathering of 47 countries at the nuclear security summit will not focus on individual nations, the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea – and possible new UN sanctions against Tehran – are expected to be discussed in Obama’s bilateral meetings with various leaders attending the meeting.

Among those expected to attend the summit are Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

Also represented will be India and Pakistan, which never signed the NPT but have atomic arsenals.

The inclusion of Pakistan, diplomats say, is important since it is one of the countries that has pledged to improve its internal safeguards over its nuclear weapons.

Two nations excluded from the meeting are Iran, which the United States and its Western allies accuse of pursuing nuclear weapons, and North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and has twice tested nuclear devices.


Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Comments are closed.