Pro-Israel Group Official Says Buzz About Obama Administration Signing Off on Nuclear-Free Middle East Not A Big Deal

May 6, 2010 4:04pm

Conservative critics have lambasted the Obama administration for supporting a United Nations resolution calling for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East – including Israel – but an official with a pro-Israel organization in Washington, DC, tells ABC News that the resolution is “boilerplate” and of little consequence in and of itself.

The U.S. joined with the other members of the United Nations Security Council this week to support “full implementation” of a 1995 resolution calling for no nuclear arms in the region.

“We are committed to a full implementation of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East, and we support all ongoing efforts to this end,” the UN statement read. “We are ready to consider all relevant proposals in the course of the Review Conference in order to come to an agreed decision aimed at taking concrete steps in this direction.”

Israel was not mentioned in the resolution – nor have Israeli government officials ever publicly acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons.

But before the current Review Conference to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations – aka “RevCon,” officials from Egypt and other Arab countries discussed ways to push for full  implementation of the 1995 resolution specifically as a way to target Israel, which is currently the only country in the Middle East thought to possess nuclear weapons, though Iran is trying.

John Bolton, a US Ambassador to the United Nations during the Bush administration, told Israeli Army Radio that the US should not have agreed to reaffirm the 1995 resolution.

Bolton said on Tuesday that President Obama “is not happy with Israel's nuclear capabilities. I think he would be delighted if Israel gave up its nuclear weapons."

"When I was in the Bush administration we refused to even talk about these kinds of ideas," Bolton said. "I'd be quite worried about the possible outcome there."

An official with a pro-Israel organization in Washington tells ABC news that the resolution is not a big deal since “that’s always been the US position, that when there’s comprehensive peace in the region with no remaining threats, there would be total disarmament.”

Policymakers refer to the path to that Eden as a “long corridor” – and implementation of the 1995 resolution wouldn’t begin until the Middle East reaches the end of that corridor.

“So far, this is boilerplate on the part of the US,” the official with the pro-Israel organization told ABC News. “The State Department had been very clear that we don't see the necessary conditions — comprehensive peace in the region and the elimination of military threats to our allies in Israel — to pursue this now.”

The tougher questions for the Obama administration, the official said, are what will the president push in the name of reaching that place of peace?

“The question remains, however, what are we prepared to agree to as ‘practical steps’ in the conference” to get to that point, the official said. “Certainly, people will be watching to see how this proceeds.”

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement that the “United States continues to support the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.  We believe that the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East offers the best prospect for achieving the Resolution’s objective of a WMD-free zone. Implementation of the Resolution’s recommendations must be acceptable to all states within the region. “

Vietor said that the White House would “welcome RevCon outcomes that move us towards this implementation, we are also cognizant that present-day circumstances do not allow for the Resolution to be implemented in full overnight.  We hope that mutually-acceptable steps can be decided upon at the RevCon, and that disagreement on this important subject will not block progress on other areas where agreement is possible.”

-jpt

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