Israel supports the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, but ratification depends on region

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel supports the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which it has signed, but ratification depends on the “regional context and appropriate timing,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the treaty organization’s head.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo met on Monday in Israel with the prime minister, who told her that Israel supports the treaty and its goals, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. Israel was active in negotiating the treaty and signed it in 1996.

Zerbo was visiting Israel at the invitation of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission Director Zeev Senir, to mark 20 years since the treaty was open for signing.

The statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office came after Zerbo told the Associated Press following her meeting with Netanyahu that Israel backs ratifying the treaty and that Netanyahu considers the issue of ratifying the treaty a matter of “when, rather than if.”

The statement did not give a time table for ratification nor specify what it meant by a regional context. Iran and Egypt, which both have nuclear weapons, also have not ratified the treaty.

Some 183 countries have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and 164 have ratified it. Eight countries that had nuclear reactors when the treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly must still ratify the treaty for it to go into effect. Those countries are: the United States, China, Iran, Israel, Egypt, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

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