U.S. welcomes Israeli support for nuclear test ban

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JERUSALEM — American officials believe that Israel's support for the wording of a U.N. nuclear test ban treaty could help secure the backing of other Middle Eastern countries.

Foreign Minister David Levy this week told John Holum,visiting director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, that Israel had decided to support the text of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Holum said he believed that Israel's backing was "very important in securing regional support." He voiced hope that Egypt would also support the treaty.

Negotiations over the final language of the treaty, which urges a complete ban on all nuclear testing, took place this week in Geneva.

The treaty must be approved by eight nations, five of which are acknowledged nuclear powers. The remaining three — Israel is one of them — are believed to have a nuclear capability.

Levy asked that an appendix be added to the accord to prevent countries that might seek international checks of Israel's nuclear facilities to exploit the treaty.

Israel has declined to sign the current Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.