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Wednesday Aug. 25, 2010 9:59 AM (EST+7)
UN nuclear chief in Israel to press it on NPT

Read more: nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, nuclear program, non-proliferation treaty, NPT

JERUSALEM, Aug 24 (Reuters) - The head of the UN nuclear agency is in Israel to advance a resolution that calls on the Jewish state to put its atomic sites under UN inspection and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israeli TV said on Tuesday.

Israeli government officials confirmed to Channel 10 TV that Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will raise concerns by some members of the Vienna-based body about Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities.

Amano arrived in Israel on Monday for a low-key, three-day visit that includes meetings on Wednesday with President Shimon Peres, whose post is largely ceremonial, and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is also Minister of Atomic Energy.

Israel is one of only three countries worldwide along with India and Pakistan outside the nuclear NPT and is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, though it has never confirmed or denied it.

The IAEA passed a non-binding resolution in September calling for it to tackle the issue. The resolution, which was backed by U.N. Security Council members Russia and China, passed by a 49-45 margin with 16 abstentions.

Israeli media said it was unusual that Amano would not meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Channel 10 TV said a planned meeting with Netanyahu was canceled and the two men will speak by phone instead.

Amano's visit includes a stop at the Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, an applied research institute by the Mediterranean coast that has a small five megawatt reactor.

The IAEA'S September vote split along Western and developing nation lines. It was seen as a victory for Arab states that had sponsored the move.

Israel deplored the measure for singling it out while many of its Islamic neighbors remained hostile to its existence. It also said it would not cooperate with it.

Amano will not visit a secret nuclear facility near the town of Dimona in the Negev desert, which houses an IRR-2 type heavy-water cooled and moderated reactor that is fueled by natural uranium and has a nominal capacity of 26 megawatts. (Writing by Joseph Nasr, Editing by Angus MacSwan)






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