How dare they! Egypt, Syria press for IAEA resolution over Israel's nuclear weapons
Wed, 19 Sep 2007 16:38 EDT
Israel insisted there was no basis for the resolution, scheduled to be presented on Thursday, and called upon the other member states of the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to reject the proposal.
Egyptian ambassador Ihab Fawzy said the IAEA must pass the resolution against Israel to show it is committed to "the principles and declared stances regarding peace, stability and security in the Middle East region."
Syrian ambassador Ibrahim Othman told the IAEA general conference that "Arab countries will with greater determination... present to this conference a draft resolution for its adoption."
Israel's policy is one of "nuclear ambiguity", neither confirming nor denying it has nuclear weapons even if, in an apparent blunder, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to imply late last year that his country does in fact have the bomb. [Oh they confirmed it. See Here]
The Arab states insist, however, that the Jewish state does have such weapons and is a danger to peace and stability in the Middle East.
Traditionally at the IAEA's general conference, Arab states introduce a resolution on the Israeli nuclear threat but in the face of strong Western opposition, they withdraw the text.
It is then postponed to the following year in return for Israel agreeing to a call for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
On Wednesday, however, the Egyptian and Syrian ambassadors signalled that their patience was wearing thin.
"The fact that many UN and IAEA resolutions with regard to Israel's nuclear capabilities are not carried out increases the frustration of the Arab peoples and threatens an arms race that could also threaten the peace and security of the region and the world," said Syrian ambassador Othman.
He complained that Israel was the only country in the Middle East "to have nuclear weapons and nuclear capabilities which are not under international control."
It was therefore a legitimate concern "to ask Israel to join the other countries in the NPT" (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), Othman said. [Even Iran has signed this treaty]
The Jewish state's steadfast refusal to put its nuclear facilities under international control constituted a "danger" to peace in the region and internationally, he argued.
Syria supports setting up a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East and "expresses its deep anxiety regarding the obstacle that Israel places to setting up such an area," Othman said.
Israel's "intransigent attitude has brought great harm to the credibility and the internationality of the NPT", Othman said.
The chief of Israel's atomic energy commission, Gideon Frank, rejected the criticism.
He said Israel remained committed "to a vision of the Middle East developing into a zone free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. [Except Israel of course]
"Yet, in the Middle East... such a noble goal cannot be advanced out of context," Frank argued.
A nuclear weapons-free zone could only emerge if there were "a fundamental transformation of the regional political-strategic environment through a gradual process of building mutual trust and reconciliation, followed by more modest arms control measures," Frank said.
"So far, such a transformation has eluded the Middle East."
Frank said that "many alarming proliferation developments in the Middle East have occurred in recent years. None of these involved Israel. But all of them challenge our security."
There was "no basis" for the resolution against Israel. "Its sponsors are motivated by extraneous considerations," he said.
Comment: No basis?
"Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map.
Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as France, America, Russia and Israel?" -- Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, December 13, 2006
Of course, Iran never said that.