Israel has dismissed plans to hold a summit on creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, saying it was unrealistic to push such an idea given the "current volatile and hostile" climate in the region.
"Any initiative to promote the 2012 conference on the Middle East... in complete disregard to the present sombre regional realities, is futile," Shaul Horev, head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) said on Wednesday.
He was referring to a Russian motion for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt a resolution on such a conference, which would take place in Finland later this year.
So far, Israel has not yet said whether it would attend the conference, a foreign ministry spokesperson, Yigal Palmor, told AFP.
"We are engaged in talks with the relevant elements who are responsible for the organisation of this conference. We still need to get a few things clarified and answers to a few questions," he said.
"No decision (on attendance) has been made yet."
Speaking at an IAEA meeting in Vienna, Horev said the situation in the Middle East was not yet "conducive" to the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone.
"Such a process can only be launched when peaceful relations exist for a reasonable period of time in the region," Horev said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
The impetus for a nuclear weapons-free zone must come from within the region, he said.
"It cannot be imposed from outside. Regrettably, the realities in the Middle East are far from being conducive," he said.
"The concept of a region free of weapons of mass destruction, that has never been put to the test, even in the most peaceful regions of the world, is certainly much less applicable to the current volatile and hostile Middle East."
Israel, he said, "does not enjoy the luxury of testing concepts born elsewhere that are strange to the region and its political culture and might put Israel's national security at great risk."
Earlier this year, Finnish representatives travelled to Israel in a bid to convince it to attend the meeting, which comes as the world grapples with the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme.
Israel and much of the international community believes Iran's nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability, a charge denied by Tehran which says its activities are for civilian energy and medical purposes only.
Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, has said it will not rule out unilateral military action against Tehran to prevent it from developing a weapon.
The Jewish state is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which governs and restricts the development of nuclear technology, although it has IAEA membership.
Horev also addressed remarks made last week by Jordan's King Abdullah II in an exclusive AFP interview, accusing Israel of seeking to foil the kingdom's nuclear energy programme.
"Israel supports the uses of nuclear power by its neighbours, to meet their energy and water needs," he said.
"Israel believes in the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the Middle East, as long as states fully honour their international non-proliferation obligations."
He said Israel had assisted Amman by providing "comprehensive geological data" to help Jordan decide where to place its nuclear power site.