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Arabs Criticize Alleged WMD in Israel

SAM F. GHATTAS Associated Press

Arab nations accused some countries of ignoring Israel's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction while pressuring others to give up nuclear programs.

Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has never confirmed being a nuclear power, but it is widely believed to have nuclear weapons.

At the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt charged that the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency was holding back from criticizing Israel.

It is "unacceptable that Israel's possession of such weapons should remain a reality that some prefer to ignore or prevent" the international community from dealing with, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa, whose country has been accused by Washington of possessing weapons of mass destruction, said it was regrettable that some level accusations at Arabs while they overlook the Israeli arsenal.

Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal said Israel's nuclear program was a threat to security and stability in the Middle East. He expressed surprise that the International Atomic Energy Agency was intensifying monitoring of countries which had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while "we see that it continues to ignore the rejection of Israel in not joining the treaty."

Prince Saud was alluding to North Korea and Iran, which both have signed the treaty, aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

Under U.S. pressure, the IAEA has given Iran until Oct. 31 to prove it does not plan to develop nuclear weapons. Europe and Russia have also increased pressure on Tehran to meet the deadline. The United States is also leading efforts to demand North Korea abandon its program.

Prince Saud said Israel's nuclear program was a threat to security and stability in the Middle East.

Also, the U.S. contention that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was the reason cited for the invasion and the toppling of President Saddam Hussein.

On the Palestinian conflict, the Arab nations condemned Israel but urged the two sides to return to negotiations.

Prince Saud said the recent violence could have been avoided if the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, who jointly devised the "road map" peace plan, provided international monitors to oversee implementation.

Jordan's foreign minister, Marwan Muasher, urged creation of an effective monitoring mechanism to implement the "road map."

In addition, Muasher condemned the "mass killings" committed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and said the United Nations must assume the leading role in overseeing the drafting of a constitution and supervising elections.

Syria's al-Sharaa said the road to peace lies in Israel's implementation of U.N. resolutions that Israel has defied. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail urged the international community to apply pressure on Israel.

Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization's political department, called for the Israeli army's withdrawal from areas seized since violence erupted three years ago and for the deployment of an international force. He also demanded that Israel lift its siege on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank.


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