Eighteen Arab countries have requested space on the agenda for discussion of a resolution on Israel’s nuclear capabilities at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in September.
An item on Israel’s nuclear capabilities has been on the annual conference’s agenda since 1987, but 2009 was the only year in which the member states approved a resolution on the topic.
In 2011 and 2012, the Arab states refrained from submitting a resolution on Israel’s nuclear program, a move they said they made to encourage Israeli participation in the process of creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East.
A June 12 memorandum submitted by Oman’s ambassador to the IAEA, Badr bin Mohamed Al Hinai, said that Israel “continues to defy the international community” by refusing to join the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). This refusal threatens peace and exposes the region to “nuclear risks,” the memorandum said. Al Hinai submitted the memorandum and an accompanying letter on behalf of the Arab Group, which is made up of 18 Arab states and the Palestinian territories.
Ehud Azoulay, Israel’s ambassador to the IAEA, told Reuters on July 9 that the Arab states “are taking a counterproductive route by raising this issue…and trying to bash Israel.”
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, despite the government’s insistence that it will not be the first country to introduce such weapons into the region.
According to the memorandum, the “recent course of events” failed to meet the expectations of the Arab states, motivating them to put the resolution on Israel’s nuclear program back on the agenda for the IAEA conference.
A meeting was scheduled to be held in December 2012 on creating the WMD-free zone in the region, but was postponed.(See ACT, December 2012.)