Photo: Reuters
Israeli nuclear facility
Photo: Reuters
Israel slams fresh Arab move to isolate it at IAEA
Arab League states with Iran's backing prepare to table resolution called 'Israel's nuclear capabilities' urging all Middle East country's not to test or develop atom bombs. Jerusalem: Move "substantially unwarranted and flawed

Israel Monday condemned a renewed Arab effort to isolate it at a UN atomic watchdog assembly.


Arab League states with Iran's backing prepared to table a resolution called "Israel's nuclear capabilities" urging all Middle East states not to test or develop atom bombs and not to stand in the way of a regional nuclear-free zone.


The Arab states shelved a similar measure at the annual conference of 145 International Atomic Energy Agency member states a year ago.


But resentment continues to fester over inaction regarding what is assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal in Israel, which critics say causes an imbalance of power and spurs adversaries in an unstable region to seek nuclear weaponry.


Israel, which has called the Arab move "substantially unwarranted and flawed," filed a motion Monday for it to be struck off the IAEA General Conference agenda.


The measure is expected to be considered later this week.


"Among sponsors of this draft resolution are states which openly do not recognize the state of Israel and even call for its annihilation," Israel Atomic Energy Commission Director Shaul Chorev said, alluding to Iran.


"What is the moral standing of sponsors of this agenda item who do not recognize Israel's right to exist while criticizing Israeli policies aiming at securing its very existence?"


Chorev said the Jewish state, along with India and Pakistan outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), "possesses advanced nuclear expertise."


'Shameful silence of Israel's Western allies'

But he said some countries had been developing atomic bomb capability despite being members of the NPT. He was alluding to Iran and Syria, the subjects of special IAEA investigations.


Iran and Syria both deny pursuing nuclear weapons or hiding any activity from IAEA non-proliferation inspectors.


Chorev said Israel had long backed a Middle East free of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction in principle.


"But this cannot be advanced out of context. It can only emerge gradually from a process of mutual acceptance, reconciliation and lasting peace, followed by more confidence building measures and modest arms control measures."


Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh condemned the "shameful silence" of Israel's Western allies about its nuclear exclusivity and said this "left no doubt about the urgent need for reform in the United Nations."


The West is opposing an Arab-backed bid by Syria for a seat on the IAEA's governing board, despite an investigation into US intelligence reports that Damascus tried to build a covert plutonium reactor. Iran has withdrawn its own candidacy in favor of its ally Damascus, diplomats said.


First published: 09.30.08, 11:05
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