NA (Reuters/AFP) - The UN nuclear assembly on Friday voiced concern about Israels nuclear capabilities and voted to urge the Jewish state to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and place all atomic sites under UN inspections, in a surprise victory for Arab states.
At the International Atomic Energy Agencys 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 deputy chief of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, David Danieli said it deplored the resolution and would not cooperate with it.
Irans Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh spoke in favour of the resolution, describing Israels nuclear capabilities as a potential threat to the peace and security of the world.
The assembly also adopted a resolution urging all Middle East nations to foreswear atomic bombs in a symbolic vote showing increasing consensus for the measure.
Unlike last year when the vote was boycotted by most Arabs over amendments they felt took pressure off Israel, Thursdays ballot followed negotiations that prevented marathon wrangling.
The non-binding ballot at the annual International Atomic Energy Agency assembly was 100-1 with four abstentions, compared with 82-0 with 13 abstentions in 2008.
The US, Israels closest ally, abstained from the vote but Ambassador Glyn Davies said Washington was committed to the goal of Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected here today, US Ambassador Glyn Davies said after the vote on establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East.
Efforts to achieve consensus were, as before, were thwarted by the insistence of Arab, Islamic and developing nations on the NPT accession clause.
Iran and Syria, both NPT members, are under IAEA investigation over suspicions of covert intentions to make atomic bombs. They deny the allegations.
Approving Thursdays resolution were all industrialised states except the United States, Canada, Georgia, which abstained, as did India. Asian, Latin American, African, Arab and Islamic states voted yes.
Israel argued that while a NWFZ is a commendable ideal, it is not feasible as long as some Arab neighbours continue not to recognise the Jewish state, with Iran openly calling for its elimination.