Israel says NO to nuclear transparency
Israel has once again refused to acknowledge international calls for transparency in its covert nuclear program during a meeting held by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
During the nuclear-free Middle East conference in Vienna, deputy head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission David Danieli said on Monday that Tel Aviv would not begin talks on the issue.
"Experience shows that such a process can only be launched when normal, peaceful relations exist in the region, when the threat perception of all regional members is low," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
"Political instability, open hostilities, deep mistrust and noncompliance with international obligations are too common in many parts of the Middle East region," he argued.
This is while participants at the gathering condemned Tel Aviv's response, saying Israel's massive nuclear arsenal and total lack of transparency will make the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East completely impossible.
Syria said Israel is posing a "grave and serious threat" through its undeclared atomic arsenal.
Last year, the 189 members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) decided to convene a UN-sponsored conference on establishing a Middle East nuclear-free zone in 2012. This year's meeting was an incentive for most of the nations to meet with Israel for the exploratory Vienna talks.
Despite international condemnation, Tel Aviv still remains unclear whether it will even attend the 2012 talks.
Israel is considered to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. It refuses to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities or to join the NPT based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Berlin-based Friedrich Ebert Foundation, more than 50 percent of European people believe Israel is the most serious threat to global security.