UPDATE: Israeli Nuclear Capabilities Resolution at the IAEA GC

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.


8 Comments on “UPDATE: Israeli Nuclear Capabilities Resolution at the IAEA GC”

  1. Denis says:

    The upside is that the resolution made it to a vote at all and thereby forced USG to make a fool of itself — yet again — in supporting the dangerous, hypocritical, and unsustainable GoI position on nukes. Just another brick in the wall.

    Someday the people of the world will turn on Israel with a vengeance, and the present USG, including Congress, will look like the pack of imbeciles they are. [This is opinion, as all prediction is.]

  2. Marianne says:

    Dan, you are confusing Board resolutions with resolutions of the General Conference. Here is the description from the James Martin Center Fact Sheet #42 about 2010, when the Israeli Nuclear Capability Resolution was defeated, as it was this year.

    “Frustrated by lack of progress on a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, however, the Arab states in 2006 began to push for the INC resolution to come to a vote, but were blocked for several years by the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). In 2009, the Arab states finally brought the matter to a vote and emerged with a victory when the INC resolution was adopted by a narrow margin of 49 in favor, 45 against, and 16 abstentions. In 2010, due to an intensive effort by WEOG, the resolution was rejected for the first time by a vote. In 2011 and 2012, the Arab states decided not to table the resolution, assessing they did not have a majority to pass it, after a new compromise between the Arab states and Israel was negotiated to hold the IAEA Forum, and in light of the ongoing efforts to hold the WMD-free Zone Conference (see below for details.)” by Chen Kane and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, CNS Senior Research Associates

  3. Don Bacon says:

    It’s interesting that the linked RT news report referred to the IAEA as “the UN nuclear agency ” thus giving the IAEA a status it doesn’t deserve. The IAEA, as we know, is merely by treaty the verifier of the non-diversion of nuclear fuel. It has no law- or treaty-based treaty-making functions. It is not a UN agency.

    So give the US credit, it has steered this matter to an agency –“the UN nuclear agency ” — it controls (and which even, confusingly, has a pretty blue flag similar to the UN one). The US has kept the matter out of the United Nations, where it would be approved, not in Israel’s favor. The outcome was therefore pre-ordained.

    It’s similar with the current Syria chemical matter. The US has apparently referred the matter to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which it probably controls as it does the IAEA, rather than to the UN Security Council.

    So who needs the UN any longer? The US has only needed UNSC resolutions as a legal pretense for war. The UNGA, with all its anti-Istael votes, it generally avoids.

    • Don Bacon says:

      Does the US control OPCW as well as it does IAEA? Apparently it does., or thinks it does.

      news report from Russia, on Syria:
      “Our American partners are starting to blackmail us: ‘If Russia does not support a resolution under Chapter 7 [military intervention], then we will withdraw our support for Syria’s entry into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This is a complete departure from what I agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry’,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Channel 1’s Sunday Time program.

      • Johnboy says:

        Don, I imagine the question is this: can the USA block Syria from joining the OPCW?

        If the answer is “No” then the American threat is hollow, amounting to little more than a threat to piss all over what the Russians had believed was a bipartisan deal.

        The Russians might want to call that bluff, since it will place the USA into the (frankly ludicrous) position of
        (a) demanding that Syria rid itself of CW while
        (b) opposing Syrian membership of an organization dedicated to the eradication of CWs.

        Hard to spin that as a principled policy position…

      • Don Bacon says:

        Without taking the time to research it, I suspect that the US can’t block Syria from joining an organization set up to assist nations to (voluntarily) get rid of their chemical weapons. So the US withdraws its support from Syria’s entry, so what?

        Block a nation from doing what you demand they do? Only Kerry could dream that one up. But that’s only my opinion. This is why we have lawyers. 🙂

  4. […] the IAEA draft resolution was defeated in a close vote. But that speaks more to the influence of the United States in that particular forum that it does to international consensus on the issue. It is useful to […]

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