UNITED NATIONS, (Reuters) – The United States and Egypt struck a deal on a push to pressure Israel to ultimately scrap any atomic bombs it has in a bid to avert a collapse of talks on shoring up the global anti-nuclear arms pact, envoys said on Friday.
But they said it was unclear whether Iran would attempt to single-handedly block an agreement on a final declaration that has now been agreed upon by the other 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, who have been meeting for a month to find ways to strengthen the troubled pact.
“We have a deal that everyone can live with,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “Now the question is will Iran do the right thing.”
The latest draft of a final declaration for the NPT review conference calls for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to organize a meeting of all Middle Eastern states in 2012 on how to make the region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as demanded by a 1995 NPT resolution.
It also urges Israel to sign the NPT and put its nuclear facilities under U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards — a passage the Americans had wanted deleted. In the end, they backed down in the interest of salvaging the conference, delegates told Reuters.
The creation of a WMD-free zone would eventually force Israel to abandon any atomic bombs it might have. The Jewish state, which like nuclear-armed India and Pakistan never signed the NPT, is presumed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies that.