Israel should not be unduly concerned about the US–Egyptian plan to start talks about a nuclear-free Middle East.
The US has clearly stated that for now it is "prepared to support practical measures towards the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction". The term "practical measures" in this case means supporting peace in the Middle East, and achieving it first, before the disarmament drive begins.
Therefore, until such time that Israel and its neighbours have signed peace treaties and most probably security guarantees, the US is not going to pressure Israel to give up its reported nuclear stockpile.
With peace in the Middle East still unlikely in the near future, many are asking why the US is even raising such a idea at the moment.
The biggest reason is Iran. By showing interest and supporting the idea of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, Washington is trying to improve its position in the Arab world. With sanctions against Iran imminent, this is a necessary and timely step.
The Egyptians also have their own reasons. With presidential elections scheduled for September next year, Hosni Mubarak is trying to improve his position against his competitor Mohamed El Baradei, the former Secretary General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). By taking on Israel, Mr Mubarak is also trying to wrestle influence and legitimacy away from movements such as Hizbollah and their allies in Iran.