WASHINGTON ó Egypt and the
United States have sought to draft a joint proposal for a Middle East free of
Officials and analysts
said President Barack Obama has approved efforts of a joint resolution as a
means of pressuring Israel to give up its purported nuclear arsenal. They said
the resolution was not meant against Iran, which has denied a nuclear weapons
"The president is not
happy with Israel's nuclear capabilities," former U.S. envoy to the United
Nations, John Bolton, said. "I think he would be delighted if Israel gave up its
In an interview on May 4
on Israel Army radio, Bolton said Obama's predecessor, George Bush, refused to
work with Egypt or any other country for a so-called nuclear-free Middle East.
Israel has refused to confirm or deny reports that it possesses nuclear weapons.
"Egypt and the Obama
administration are negotiating right now on an Egyptian proposal for a nuclear
weapons free zone in the Middle East, which certainly sounds good," Bolton, who
served as Bush's leading nonproliferation official, said. "Except when you think
about it, there is only one country that resolution is targeted at and that is
"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."
Over the last 40 years,
the United States has unofficially adopted Israel's refusal to discuss its
purported nuclear arsenal. Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty until peace comes to the Middle East.
The United Nations has
hosted a month-long meeting on NPT. The session has been dominated by Egypt's
recruitment of a bloc to press for the implementation of a 1995 resolution for a
nuclear-free Middle East.
"We want to see every
country be a signatory to the NPT," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on
May 3. "We believe strongly in this. Thatís why we are taking steps which have
never been taken by any administration before."
Israel has become the
focus of attention at the NPT meeting, sponsored by the International Atomic
Energy Agency. IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano has asked member-states to
propose ways to press Israel to join NPT.
"It would be helpful to me
if Your Excellency could inform me of any views that your government might have
with respect to meeting the objectives of the resolution," Amano said in an
April 7 letter addressed to the foreign ministers of the 151 member states.
On May 5, Britain, China,
France, Russia and the United States called for a nuclear-free Middle East. The
five nuclear powers, without mentioning Israel, called on all states in the
region to sign the NPT.
"We urge those states that
are not parties to the treaty to accede as non-nuclear-weapon states and pending
accession to the NPT, to adhere to its terms," a statement by the five powers
Bolton did not rule out a
U.S. campaign against Israel's purported nuclear weapons arsenal. He said the
next few months could see an increase in U.S. and other international pressure
on the Jewish state.
"The only unknown answer
at this point is exactly how much pressure he [Obama] would exert on Israel to
do just that," Bolton said. "Part of that pressure is being exerted right now by
even considering the possibility of a conference on a nuclear-weapons-free