‘Great victory’? Israeli nuclear program resolution voted down by IAEA

Israeli nuclear facility in the Negev Dest outside Dimona ©
A resolution calling for the inspection of Israeli nuclear sites has been defeated at the IAEA General Conference, with Tel Aviv, which led an intensive campaign against the Arab states’ proposal, hailing the result of the vote as a “great victory” in the international arena.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) General Conference voted 61-43 against the resolution put forward by Egypt and backed by Turkey, Syria, Iran, Libya, and Iraq, as well as Russia, China. And South Africa.

The resolution called for the international monitoring of the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona which is suspected of developing fissile material for Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal that poses “a permanent threat to peace and security in the region.”

Israel’s long term allies such as the US, some EU members, Australia, Japan South Korea and Canada voted against the motion calling for nuclear inspection. Tel Aviv and pro-Israel states worked endlessly behind the scenes to sway the votes in Israel’s favor on the subject of “Israel’s nuclear capabilities” ahead of the IAEA vote.

“I personally talked with more than 30 presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers,” Netanyahu revealed. “In our conversations I explained that there’s no place for a discussion of this sort while the main problem in the Middle East remains Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and its clear declarations of its intent to destroy the State of Israel.”

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Since Iran has sealed an agreement with the world powers on greater nuclear transparency, this vote became the first attempt to press Israel to follow suit. However, similar proposals submitted nearly annually have been easily thwarted in the past.

Thursday’s vote was hailed by the Netanyahu’s office as a “great victory for Israel on the international arena.” A great victory indeed, as a similar resolution last year was rejected by 58 votes to 45,with 27 countries abstaining. This year the margin tilted in Israel’s favor, with Netanyahu “welcoming” that gap in favor of Israel.

Israel, which de jure has no nuclear capabilities, remains the only Middle Eastern country outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – a notion which the Arab states have been pushing to change.

“This [Israeli] regime is continuing to advance and develop its nuclear program contrary to all international norms,” the Iranian envoy said of the resolution, according to Haaretz. He said that Iran and other countries are “worried about the negative ramifications” that Tel Aviv’s alleged nuclear program has on the Middle East.

The Syrian envoy prior to the vote said that the international community must demand Israel to “dismantle all of its nuclear arsenal”.

Israel is widely believed to possess dozens of nuclear weapons, including thermonuclear warheads in the megaton range. Tel Aviv however has never confirmed or denied being in possession of nuclear arms.