JERUSALEM — Israel, thought to be the Middle East’s only nuclear power, has rejected a new UN demand to come clean about its secretive nuclear program, calling it a “deeply flawed and hypocritical” act that ignores the threat posed by its sworn enemy Iran.
Israel declared late Saturday that it would not take part in a 2012 conference on establishing a nuclear-free Middle East — an Arab-led initiative backed by top ally United States and the 188 other signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
Although a series of U.S. conditions put the conference in doubt, the resolution, and the surprising U.S. support it received, added new pressure on Israel to give up what is almost universally believed to be a sizable nuclear arsenal. Israel refuses to confirm or deny the suspicions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to discuss the resolution with President Barack Obama when the two meet in Washington Tuesday, the Israeli leader’s office said.
Netanyahu was in Canada on Sunday, and a government spokesman declined what contacts had been made with the U.S. over the resolution.
But an army radio reporter travelling with Netanyahu in Toronto said his office unsuccessfully lobbied the U.S. to block the resolution ahead of Friday’s vote.
Israel’s so-called policy of nuclear ambiguity is a cornerstone of its military deterrence. It has long said that a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace must precede such weapons bans.
Israel has never signed the non-proliferation treaty, which requires members to open nuclear facilities to inspection and to disarm.
In its statement, it noted that since it’s not a member, it is not a party to the resolution.
“This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical: It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world,” the government statement said.