Israel has 50-50 chance to thwart resolution at IAEA meet

Israel may face planned vote on “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities” resolution put forth by Arab countries that singles it out for criticism.

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September 16, 2011 03:55
1 minute read.
IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna, March.

IAEA meeting_311. (photo credit: Stringer Austria / Reuters)

 
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The Israeli Atomic Energy Commission will face a diplomatic battle next week at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna amid predictions that Israel stands a 50 percent chance at defeating an Arab resolution targeting it’s nuclear program.

Government officials said that talks with other IAEA members were ongoing regarding a planned vote on a resolution put forth by a group of Arab countries called “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities” that singles out Israel for criticism. If passed, the resolution could move on to the United Nations and could lead to a reduction in technical support which Israel receives from the IAEA.

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The IAEA’s 55th annual member-state gathering will open on September 19. Israeli Atomic Energy Commission head Dr. Shaul Horev, who will be accompanied by officials from the Foreign Ministry, will address the forum.

In addition to the Arab nations’ resolution, Egypt has also submitted a resolution calling for a nuclear-free Middle East. Last year, Israel abstained during a previous vote on a similar resolution.

The “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities” resolution was defeated last year but passed the year before.

“We think there is a 50-50 chance to defeat the resolution,” one Israeli official said on Thursday.



Last year, US officials warned that zeroing in on Israel, widely believed to be the region's only nuclear power, could jeopardize an Egyptian-proposed conference in 2012 to discuss creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

As Israel continued working to defeat the resolution, diplomats in Vienna said Thursday that Arab countries were considering pulling the resolution as a “confidence-building measure” and a “good gesture from Arab states” to foster wider-ranging efforts toward creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

Two Western diplomats told Reuters that Arab ambassadors to the IAEA had told them this week that they now did not plan to put forward the text this year. “If true, obviously we would welcome it,” one of them said.

Reuters contributed to the report.

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