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Why Israel's Netanyahu will skip Obama's nuclear security summit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will send a deputy to Obama's nuclear security summit next week. He decided not to attend himself after learning that some Arab countries planned to press Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shown during a press conference in Jerusalem, Wednesday. Mr. Netanyahu will send a deputy in his place to President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington next week.

Bernat Armangue/AP

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The Middle East was always going to be a focus of any international gathering on nuclear security.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last-minute decision to skip President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington next week has served to highlight instabilities in the Middle East – and the reasons the prospect of a “nuclear race” in the region is so worrisome to US officials.

Mr. Netanyahu reversed his decision to appear at the summit, to be attended by 50 world leaders Monday and Tuesday, on concerns that Muslim countries at the gathering would publicly call for Israel to give up its assumed nuclear arsenal and thus make way for a truly nuclear-free Middle East. Netanyahu decided to send a deputy and several senior officials in his place “after learning that some countries including Egypt and Turkey plan to say Israel must sign the NPT,” an Israeli official said Friday, referring to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that Israel has never signed.

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