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Israel thanks US for blocking UN nuclear disarmament move

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Israel. (AP file photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thanked the United States for blocking a UN measure that could have forced Israel to disclose its arsenal of nuclear weapons. 

More than 150 countries participated in a month-long conference in New York reviewing the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

Late on Friday, after four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the NPT, the United States announced that there was "no agreement" and accused Arab countries of torpedoing the nuclear disarmament negotiations.

US Arms Control Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller told the NPT conference on Friday that the language on the final NPT review document was "incompatible with our long-standing policies”.

The talks ended in failure after the US and its allies, including Canada and Britain rejected a proposal made by Arab countries to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East by March 2016. 

On Saturday, Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry and asked him to convey his gratitude to President Barack Obama for the stance the US took at the NPT review conference.

Israel is not a party to the treaty and has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program. However, it attended the conference as an observer.

Israel is believed to be the sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East with more than 200 undeclared nuclear warheads.

Israel’s nuclear weapons facility in the Negev desert viewed from satellite.

Tel Aviv has rejected global calls to join the NPT and does not allow international inspectors to observe its controversial nuclear program.


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