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US clarifies position on nuclear-free Middle East

The Obama administration keeps pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a future agreement with Iran as a fait accompli, while demonstrating its commitment to Israel's security on the nuclear-free Mideast front.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the Opening Meeting of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at United Nations headquarters in New York, April 27, 2015.    REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTX1AJ58
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An unusual event took place May 23 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called US Secretary of State John Kerry and warmly thanked him for the role played by the United States in halting the Egyptian initiative of “demilitarizing the Middle East of nuclear weapons,” in the course of the Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) held in New York from April 27 to May 22. This conversation represented a timeout and routine-breaking event in the tense reality of almost daily deteriorating bilateral relations between Washington and Jerusalem. Most probably, the Americans — who are not used to hearing Netanyahu say "thank you" — suppressed bitter smiles.

Behind the scenes, a true diplomatic drama is taking place, a drama that has been going on for more than six years now. The seeds were already planted in April 2010 when US President Barack Obama decided to convene on his behalf an international forum to block nuclear armament. Although the Americans promised the Israelis that this summit was not intended for Israel bashing and that the United States would stand guard regarding Israel’s strategic interests on the matter, the also-new Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to boycott the event at the last minute. Instead, he sent Dan Meridor, his minister of intelligence and atomic energy.

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