Arab States to Single Out Israeli Nuclear Program

Arab League representative insists resolution demanding Israel join nuclear non-proliferation treaty will be tabled for Friday vote.

Ari Soffer ,

IAEA officials
IAEA officials

Arab States will continue in their push to single Israel out for criticism at this week's UN nuclear agency meeting, defying western calls to refrain from doing so, according to a senior Arab League representative.

Frustrated over the indefinite postponement last year of an international conference on banning atomic arms in the region, Arab states have proposed a non-binding resolution expressing concern about "Israeli nuclear capabilities"

The non-binding text, submitted for the first time since 2010 to this week's member meeting of the IAEA, calls on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons pact and place its atomic facilities under IAEA monitoring and will be voted on later Friday.

If adopted at the annual member-state gathering of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, it would call on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons treaty and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA monitoring.

Diplomats are expecting a very close vote.

The United States said on Tuesday that the Arab initiative to target Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal would hurt diplomatic efforts to ban weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

US envoy to the IAEA, Joseph Macmanus, said that Washington is committed to working toward a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems, but said that the Arab resolution "does not advance our shared goal of progress toward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.”

"Instead, it undermines efforts at constructive dialogue toward that common objective," Macmanus said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters news agency.

Israel is widely believed to possess the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, drawing frequent Arab and Iranian condemnation. It has never acknowledged having nuclear weapons.

Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and, as a result, is not obligated to allow IAEA inspectors into its nuclear facilities, or abide by the international body's mandates regarding plant function.

Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, head of the Arab League group at the IAEA, insisted that the resolution would be brought up for a vote on Friday, despite US pressure to withdraw it.

"The world has to know that Israel is not playing a constructive role, that Israel has a (nuclear) capability," Ramzy told Reuters.

Arab diplomats said that they refrained from putting forward their resolution on Israel at the 2011 and 2012 IAEA meetings to boost the chances of the Middle East conference taking place last year, but decided to table the resolution this year when that did not happen.

Arab delegations have tried to focus attention on the Dimona reactor in southern Israel, which they claim has been "overlooked" by IAEA inspectors for decades.

The Arab League has unsuccessfully tried to convince the U.S. and European nations to join a campaign to end Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity. It has, however, received some support at the United Nations.

In 2010 a UN resolution calling for a nuclear-free Middle East singled out Israel for criticism, while ignoring Iran, which is suspected of developing a nuclear weapons program, and whose former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad constantly threatened to wipe Israel off the map.