Ratification of nuclear test ban only 'matter of time': Netanyahu

Jerusalem:  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel would ratify a treaty banning nuclear tests, according to a statement from his office. Netanyahu, who met on Monday morning with Lassina Zerbo, head of the UN organization overseeing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), stressed that it is not a matter of whether or not Israel would ratify the treaty -- but a question of when. "The issue of the ratification depends on the regional context and on the proper timing," Netanyahu told Zerbo in the meeting, according to the statement. The prime minister also said that Israel supports the treaty and its goals. The country signed the treaty in 1996. The CTBT requires its 196 member-states to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments. The United Nations General Assembly adopted it on September 10, 1996. However, the treaty did not come into effect as several states did not ratify it, Israel being among them. If Israel ratifies the treaty, it would increase its odds of coming into effect. Israel had never officially confirmed or denied being in possession of nuclear weapons, but it is widely believed to possess them. It is thought to be one of the four nuclear-armed countries not recognised as a nuclear weapons state by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In a report issued by US atomic scientists and nuclear weapon proliferation experts in 2013, it was assessed that Israel manufactured 80 nuclear warheads up to 2004 and then stopped their production. The report, cited in international media reports, also charged then that Israel could double its arsenal to build at least 115 more nuclear bombs.