Israel should begin talking seriously about ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons, whether it admits to having them or not, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Sunday.
Speaking to reporters on an official visit to Moscow, Mohamed ElBaradei said this would be a main issue of his visit to Israel, expected to take place next month.
"We need ... to rid the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction," he said.
"Israel agrees with that, but they say it has to be ... after peace agreements," ElBaradei said. "My proposal is maybe we need to start to have a parallel dialogue on security at the same time when we're working on the peace process."
He said that a dialogue would help reduce widespread frustration in the Middle East region "about what is seen to be a security imbalance."
Moreover, he stated talks over nuclear disarmament could stimulate peace efforts by building confidence in the region, Reuters reported.
Asked if he thought the Israelis would be open to such an idea, he said, "I don't know. That's the purpose of my visit."
Furthermore, the IAEA chief said he would not be lecturing the Israelis on whether or not they should acknowledge having atom bombs.
"I think everybody takes it as a given that Israel has a nuclear capability, if not nuclear weapons. So whether they would like to come in the open, whether they maintain ... ambiguity, it's for them to decide," ElBaradei said.
He said he would like Israel, as well as everyone else in the Middle East, to open up its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspections.
ElBaradei said it was unsustainable that some countries had nuclear weapons and others did not.
"As long as you continue to have countries dangling a cigarette from their mouth, you cannot tell everybody not to smoke with a high degree of credibility," ElBaradei said. (Albawaba.com)
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