UN atom chief invited Israel to mull joining NPT

Amano invited Israel to place all atomic facilities under IAEA inspections.

Vienna: The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has invited Israel to consider joining a global anti-nuclear arms pact and to place all its atomic facilities under his agency`s inspections, an IAEA report said on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said director general Yukiya Amano met with Israeli leaders during a visit to Israel last month to discuss an Arab-led push for the Jewish state to accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By staying outside the NPT, Israel has maintained secrecy over a program widely believed to have yielded the region`s only atomic arsenal -- perceived as an irritant and threat among its neighbours.

The issue is expected to be debated again at IAEA board and general assembly meetings later this month in Vienna. Amano`s report was prepared for those meetings.

Western countries, which see Iran as the region`s main nuclear proliferation threat, have warned that singling out Israel could jeopardize broader steps aimed at banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Bureau Report

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