U.S. Ready to Cooperate With Israel on Civilian Nuclear Use, Steinitz Says

The U.S. is willing to cooperate with Israel on civilian nuclear technology, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said, calling it a major achievement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Washington visit.

“This is a breakthrough,” Steinitz said at a conference in Tel Aviv. “It includes a clear recognition of Israel as very, very responsible and reliable with regard to nuclear technologies.”

Steinitz did not give further details of U.S. support, which came six weeks after President Barack Obama backed a United Nations resolution that called for a 2012 conference on a nuclear-free Middle East and said Israel should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel hasn’t confirmed or denied it has nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration’s approval of the language used in the May 28 UN declaration had created “a lot of concern in Israel,” said Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University outside Tel Aviv.

Agreement to hold the 2012 meeting enabled the U.S. to address a demand of Arab nations as President Barack Obama pressures Iran to halt its nuclear program. Arab states have said Israel has a nuclear arsenal that must be part of the discussion.

Steinitz also said that U.S. support for Israel’s proposal to upgrade the current indirect peace talks with Palestinians to direct negotiations was another achievement of Netanyahu’s visit. The Israeli premier said in Washington that he’s willing to negotiate the future of West Bank settlements “right away” if Palestinians agree to meet in face-to-face talks.
source :http://www.bloomberg.com

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