IAEA rejects Arab resolution to pressure Israel

Kuwaiti Ambassador Sadiq Marafi described Israel as ‘the only obstacle on a way to create a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East’

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Member states of the U.N. nuclear agency rejected on Thursday a resolution proposed by Arab states expressing concern about Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal.

Defeating the Arab bid at a meeting of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is considered to be a diplomatic victory for Western states that opposed the initiative.

The measure, brought by 18 Arab member states, was rejected by 58 votes to 45, with 27 countries abstaining at the annual general conference, Agence France-Presse reported.

The proposed resolution expressed “concerns about Israeli nuclear capabilities” and urged Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA supervision.

While similar bids have been previously rejected at different occasions, the same resolution in 2009 was narrowly approved by IAEA members but was never followed up.

The United States and its allies argued that the resolution, if adopted, would be counterproductive.

U.S. envoy Laura Kennedy said it “lessens confidence among the regional parties and diminishes the prospect for constructive dialogue,” The Associated Press quoted her as saying.

Double standards

Arab member states have accused Western countries of double standards on the nuclear issue by not putting Israel’s activities under IAEA supervision, while forcing Iran to honor its obligations under the NPT.

While Israel is widely assumed to have nuclear weapons but has never acknowledged it, Tehran is suspected by the West of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a claim it denies.

Iran and world powers are in talks to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal by November 24.

Israel ‘aggressive attitude’

Introducing the resolution in Vienna, Kuwaiti Ambassador Sadiq Marafi criticized what he called Israel’s “provocative and aggressive attitude” and described the country as “the only obstacle on a way to create a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East,” The Associated Press reported him as saying.

Israeli Ambassador Merav Zafari-Odiz, while welcoming the outcome, questioned how a “genuine dialogue among regional parties” could be expected “when our Arab neighbors continue to choose the path of condemning and singling out Israel in every possible international arena.”

Separately, the conference voted 117-0, with 13 abstentions, in favor of a resolution submitted by Egypt that called on “all states in the region” to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.