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Reuters

Israel Invited to Join Anti-Nuclear Pact

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In this file photo made from a video which aired Friday, Jan. 7, 2005 by Israeli television station Channel 10, shows Israel's top secret nuclear facility in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, according to the broadcaster. (AP Photo/Channel 10, File)

VIENNA - The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has invited Israel to consider joining a global anti-nuclear arms pact and to place all its atomic facilities under his agency's inspections, an IAEA report said on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said Director General Yukiya Amano met with Israeli leaders during a visit to Israel last month to discuss an Arab-led push for the Jewish state to accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By staying outside the NPT, Israel has maintained secrecy over a programme widely believed to have yielded the region's only atomic arsenal -- perceived as an irritant and threat among its neighbours.

The issue is expected to be debated again at IAEA board and general assembly meetings later this month in Vienna. Amano's report was prepared for those meetings.

Western countries, which see Iran as the region's main nuclear proliferation threat, have warned that singling out Israel could jeopardise broader steps aimed at banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl and Sylvia Westall; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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