|UN rejects Arab push for Israel to join NPT||
Member states of the UN nuclear agency voted down an Arab-backed resolution targeting the Zionist regime of Israel for criticism over its clandestine nuclear weapons arsenal, media reported on Friday.
Fifty-one countries voted against the so-called ‘Israeli Nuclear Capabilities’ measure and 43 states voted for it in what was viewed as a victory for the United States, which opposed the initiative.
Arab states, frustrated over the indefinite postponement last year of an international conference on banning atomic arms in the region, proposed the measure at the annual member state gathering of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The U.S. had pushed for the Jewish state’s neighbors to refrain from putting the text forward.
If adopted, Israel would have been compelled to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA monitoring. Diplomats had expected a close vote.
The United States said the move would endanger broader diplomatic efforts to create a Middle Zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Israel said it would severely undermine efforts to hold regional security talks.
Despite the warnings, Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, head of the Arab League group at the IAEA, earlier said the draft resolution would go ahead.
"The world has to know that Israel is not playing a constructive role, that Israel has a [nuclear] capability," Ramzy told Reuters.
World powers agreed in 2010 to an Egyptian plan intended to lay the groundwork for establishing a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S., who co-sponsored the meeting, said it would not take place as scheduled last December and did not forward a new date.
Arab diplomats said they had held back on proposing the resolution over the last two years in a failed bid to buoy chances for the Middle East conference.
"We have engaged seriously and constructively in the preparations [for the conference]. The Israelis have been playing for time, delaying. We have never seen enough seriousness on their part," Ramzy said.
Israel is believed to possess anywhere from 75 to as many as 400 nuclear weapons, including thermonuclear weapons in the megaton range. Israel has never confirmed or denied being in possession of the arms.
In the most recent U.S. report on the Israeli arsenal, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, nuclear weapon proliferation experts Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen assess that Israel stopped producing nuclear warheads back in 2004 once it reached around 80 munitions.
However, the Israelis can easily double their arsenal since they have enough fissile material to build at least another 115 bombs, the experts say.
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