Nuclear watchdog voices ‘concern’ at Israel

AFP – 18 Sept 2009
www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jDwMakaoF_bMvmjRoPqGBODh4sUg

VIENNA — The UN atomic watchdog’s 150 member countries expressed concern Friday about Israel’s nuclear capabilities and called on the Jewish state to foreswear atomic weapons.

Israel is widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power.

At the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference here, Arab states tabled a symbolic, non-binding resolution expressing “concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities and (calling upon) Israel to accede to the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.”

Initially, Western states tried to stop the resolution from going to a vote, arguing it would be counterproductive to single out Israel, particularly after a resolution had been passed the day before calling on all states in the Middle East to foreswear nuclear weapons.

But the adjournment motion was defeated and voting went ahead, with a total 49 countries in favour, 45 against and 16 abstentions.

It is the first time since 1991 that such a resolution has been adopted.

The Israeli delegation said it “deplored” the resolution and would “not cooperate” with it.

Its sole aim was to “reinforce political hostilities and division lines in the Middle East region,” said the deputy chief of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, David Danieli.

Israel’s arch-enemy Iran had spoken in favour of the resolution, describing Israel’s nuclear capabilities as “a potential threat to the peace and security of the world.”

It also undermined the integrity and credibility of the non-proliferation regime and the NPT, argued Tehran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

After the vote, Soltanieh described the resolution as “very good news and a triumph for the oppressed nation of Palestine”.


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