CAIRO: Egypt has sent a letter to the 15 members of the UN Security Council calling for a nuclear free Middle East and the monitoring of Israel’s nuclear program.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit sent the letter last week to the foreign ministers of the 15 member states in which he outlined that it was “unacceptable that Israeli nuclear capabilities be far from the Security Council concern and the rest of the non-proliferation system.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in a statement Tuesday that it was “unreasonable that some countries would still be outside [the] legal frame [of nuclear non-proliferation], and be rewarded by setting no restrictions on it for developing its nuclear capabilities, in light of a vague policy that derived the belief that such countries own an armed nuclear arsenal.
A non-binding resolution passed last Thursday at the end of the annual general assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as allow international observers access to its nuclear reactor in Dimona.
Another resolution was passed calling for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East. Israel, however, managed to scupper one resolution put forward by Iran that proposed prohibiting any member of the IAEA from attacking the nuclear facilities of another member.
Zaki added that this dualistic stance where countries “request the imposition of additional commitments on countries already that joined the disarmament international agreement, while overlooking countries that refuse joining basic agreements in this issue . not only weakens but destroys their credibility.
The statement pointed out that Aboul Gheit “requested the necessity for the Security Council to present a time plan with tangible specific indicators in order to achieve such a goal [of nuclear disarmament], and support regional peace and stability.
Israel – and to a lesser extent Egypt – harbors deep reservations about Iran’s nuclear aspirations, which is partially why both countries support a nuclear-free Middle East. However, Israel’s refusal to sign the NPT and the official silence surrounding its own nuclear program has meant that Egypt is also concerned about its nuclear capabilities.
Egypt has begun its own nuclear energy program, which it insists is peaceful and is monitored by IAEA observers.
Israel has never formally admitted that it has a nuclear program but former Dimona employee Mordechai Vanunu blew the whistle on Dimona when he told the British press about the secret facility in 1986. He spent 18 years in prison as a result.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a public blunder during his tenure when he mentioned Israel in a list of countries possessing a nuclear bomb. He was severely criticized in Israel for his slip-up.