TEL AVIV ø Israel is expecting a Western effort to pressure the
Jewish state to eliminate its purported nuclear weapons arsenal.
Israeli officials said the agreements by Iran and Libya to sign the
Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the
suspension of Egypt's nuclear energy program would result in Western
pressure on Israel to declare its nuclear weapons arsenal. The officials
said the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been responding to
suggestions from the European Union and hints from the United States.
"I have no doubt that certain things that are happening will eventually
affect Israel," Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon
Israel has refused to sign the NPT or allow its nuclear reactor at
Dimona to undergo inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The
Arab League plans to make this a key issue during 2004, Middle East Newsline reported.
The officials said the Sharon goverment expects the Bush administration
to ask Israel to relay a commitment to discuss weapons of mass destruction
disarmament as part of an effort to persuade Syria to do the same. They said
Syria has cited Israel's purported nuclear weapons program for the missile,
biological and chemical weapons programs of Damascus.
"I think that the state of Israel is fighting for its existence,"
Zeevi-Farkash said. "I assume that the European countries understand the
special position that Israel is in. Israel is in an Arab sea, alone as a
democracy, and this gives them possibilities that other countries don't
Officials said one step would be the release of Mordechai Vanunu, a
former Dimona technician sentenced to 18 years for relaying Israel's nuclear
secrets. Vanunu is expected to complete his sentence in April 2004 and
officials said authorities plan to limit his movement.