UPDATE: Israeli Nuclear Capabilities Resolution at the IAEA GCPosted: September 20, 2013
I did a post a while ago about the Israeli response to a proposed agenda item for the 2013 IAEA General Conference, which is going on right now. The item, which did in fact make it onto the agenda, is to vote to express concern regarding Israeli nuclear capabilities, and urge Israel to join the NPT. The General Conference adopted a similar resolution concerning Israeli nuclear capabilities in 2009, though in 2010 the resolution was defeated in the GC. According to a Reuters story today, the vote on that agenda item may take place this Thursday. As the article explains:
Frustrated over the postponement of an international conference on ridding the region of atomic arms, Arab states have proposed a resolution at a U.N. nuclear agency meeting 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 International Atomic Energy Agency calls on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons pact and place its atomic facilities under IAEA monitoring.
Israel is widely believed to possess the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, drawing frequent Arab and Iranian condemnation. It has never acknowledged having atomic weapons.
U.S. and Israeli officials – who see Iran’s atomic activity as the main proliferation threat – have said a nuclear arms-free zone in the Middle East could not be a reality until there was broad Arab-Israeli peace and Iran curbed its programme.
Washington is committed to working toward a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems, the U.S. envoy to the IAEA said.
But the Arab resolution “does not advance our shared goal of progress toward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East,” Ambassador Joseph Macmanus said in a comment emailed to Reuters.
“Instead, it undermines efforts at constructive dialogue toward that common objective,” Macmanus added.
Israel and the United States accuse Iran of covertly seeking a nuclear arms capability, something the Islamic state denies.
Iran this week said Israel’s nuclear activities “seriously threaten regional peace and security”.
World powers agreed in 2010 to an Egyptian plan for an international meeting to lay the groundwork for creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
But the United States, one of the big powers to co-sponsor the meeting, said late last year it would not take place as planned last December and did not suggest a new date.
Arab diplomats said 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 that this had had no effect. A vote on the text may take place on Thursday, one envoy said.
UPDATE: The vote was held today and, as this article reports, the resolution was defeated by a vote of 51-43. I am surprised by this outcome, as I think many observers are. I’ve heard that there was alot of behind-the-scenes arm-twisting going on in Vienna and in national capitals by US diplomats, trying to get states to vote against the resolution and protect Israel from another negative resolution by the IAEA GC.
I have of course written about Israel’s nuclear weapons in the past, including here, and while I do have sympathy for the Israeli position in many respects, I also think that Israel and its patron the US have to concede the obvious double standard of their criticism of states like Iran that have joined the NPT and do not have nuclear weapons, as compared with their refusal to suffer any criticism of Israel for not joining the NPT and having nuclear weapons.