Israel narrowly won a diplomatic victory in the United Nations Friday when the UN atomic watchdog agency rejected Arab demands that Israel sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
However, the major reason for rejecting the motion by Arab states was that its acceptance could jeopardize the already shaky Middle East diplomatic process. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted 51-46, with 23 abstentions, against the resolution that the United States had asked the Arab countries not to table.
The result was the opposite of the vote on the non-binding resolution on the same issue in 2009.
Ehud Azoulay, Israeli ambassador to the IAEA, said that Israel "hopes that the positive spirit manifested by the conference will prevail in the years to come. Israel pledges to do its utmost to promote such spirit and dialogue." He had warned before the vote that approving the motion would represent a “fatal blow” to regional security.
The precarious position of the diplomatic talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel persuaded several countries, such as Singapore and Thailand, to abstain this year instead of voting for the resolution, as they did in 2009.
Iran, which has been at the focus of IAEA attempts to inspect its nuclear projects, accused Israel and its supporters of following a policy of” double standards. Iranian IAEA ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said, "What the United States and others did today in fact undermined” the NPT and “damages the integrity of the NPT.”
He charged that the defeat of the resolution would create tension and confrontation. Soltanieh said he would return in 2011 with the same resolution.