General Assembly adopts resolution for 'nuclear free' Middle East

Arab-backed resolution gains 161 yes-votes.

December 3, 2014 19:44
2 minute read.

The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna . (photo credit: REUTERS)

NEW YORK – The UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security adopted a resolution that specifically called out Israel for being “the only State in the Middle East that has not yet become a party to the Treaty.”

The resolution adopted on Tuesday compels Israel to renounce the use and possession of nuclear weapons and entrust oversight of their nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Israel has never confirmed the development or possession of nuclear weapons.

“Recalling that Israel remains the only State in the Middle East that has not yet become a party to the Treaty... [the committee] Calls upon that State to accede to the Treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons and to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under fullscope Agency safeguards as an important confidence-building measure among all States of the region and as a step towards enhancing peace and security,” the resolution reads.

The resolution was one of 63, including 21 concerning nuclear disarmament, that were passed by the General Assembly on Tuesday at the First Committee’s recommendation.

The draft had strong support from 12 Arab states, the Arab League and seven North African countries. It was introduced by Egypt at the committee level.

One hundred sixty-one countries voted for the resolution, 18 abstained, and five voted against, including Israel, the US and Canada.

Israel had no comment on the passage of the resolution, but did scoff at another announcement on Tuesday that the delegation of Iran would be seeking a vice-chairmanship on a UN committee that decides the accreditation of UN nongovernmental organizations.

The US and Israel are already members of that committee, and Iran was elected in April to a four-year term that begins in 2015.

The US criticized Iran’s election back in April due to its poor human rights record, but had no comment on Tuesday. Israel, however, compared Iran’s bid to gangster Al Capone running the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Imagine if Iran ran this committee in the same way it runs its country – human rights activists would be detained, journalists would be tortured, and anyone with a social media account would find himself arrested on fabricated charges,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told Reuters.

The committee will begin meeting in late January. Conservative developing nations worked to block accreditation of an international gay-lesbian NGO several years ago and the issue was taken to the General Assembly, which voted to accredit the group.

Late last month a UN General Assembly committee adopted a resolution condemning Iran’s human rights record and urging the government to make good on promises of reform.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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