A representative of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and a senior Iranian official met last month to discuss the chances of declaring the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, Haaretz has learned. This is the first direct meeting between official representatives of the two states since the fall of the Shah in 1979.
The Iranian Atomic Organization on Thursday denied that officials from Israel and Iran recently took part in the Cairo conference, calling the report "sheer lies."
"There has been no meeting in Cairo," the IAEO spokesman told the website of iRAN'S state television.
Haaretz learned that Meirav Zafary-Odiz, director of policy and arms control for the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met several times over September 29 and 30 and, together with representatives of other countries, conversed, presented questions and gave replies.
The meeting was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo under the auspices of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Also attending were representatives of the Arab League, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, along with European and American officials.
The ICNND was set up by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and it is chaired by a former foreign minister of Australia, Gareth Evans, and a former foreign minister of Japan, Yoriko Kawaguchi. Former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami sits on the advisory committee of the organization.