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World - Middle East

U.S., Israel sign pact to counter Mideast weapons buildup

clinton/netanyahu October 31, 1998
Web posted at: 3:09 p.m. EST (2009 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement Saturday to jointly counter the threat to Israel posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Senior U.S. officials said Clinton and Netanyahu simultaneously signed the agreement -- Clinton at 12 p.m. EST and Netanyahu at 7 p.m. Israeli time.

"This subject has been of great concern to both governments for some time and the memorandum of agreement establishes a new mechanism for enhancing the cooperation in dealing with this potential threat," said Larry Schwartz, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Israel.


The Wye River Memorandum

The agreement calls for a joint strategic planning committee to recommend ways to upgrade the U.S.-Israeli military relationship, as well as technical cooperation, Schwartz said.

Struggle for Peace
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    Israel Radio said the agreement was negotiated at Wye Plantation in the United States earlier this month while Israeli and Palestinian leaders were sealing an interim Middle East peace deal.

    Iraq fired dozens of Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf war and Israel says arch-foe Iran is developing non-conventional warheads to mount on ballistic missiles with enough range to reach Israel.

    Intelligence officials estimate Iran could build nuclear weapons within five years.

    Iran test fired a 1300-km (800-mile) range missile earlier this year and declared the launch a success.

    Israel has long been thought to possess nuclear weapons along with missiles and planes capable of delivering them to long-range targets.

    Reuters contributed to this report.

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