Only Israel votes at UN to oppose ME nuclear-free zone

The UNGA asked that countries in the region "place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."

The UN General Assembly sign outside of the United Nations building in New York (photo credit: TAMAR BEERI)
The UN General Assembly sign outside of the United Nations building in New York
(photo credit: TAMAR BEERI)

Israel was the only country to oppose the UN General Assembly call for a Middle East nuclear-free zone, in a resolution approved 178-1 on Monday with two abstentions, the United States and Cameroon.

Iran, which the international community fears is on its way to becoming a nuclear threshold state, supported the text.

The resolution calls on all Middle Eastern countries “not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit the stationing on their territories, or territories under their control, of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.”

The GA asked that countries in the region “place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.” It also called for Middle East countries to adhere to the Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Israel, not a party to the NPT, is considered to be one of nine nations to possess nuclear weapons, along with the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel has never admitted to having such weapons.

 Ambassador Gilad Erdan at the UN General Assembly (credit: ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN) Ambassador Gilad Erdan at the UN General Assembly (credit: ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN)
 

The GA approved a second resolution 157-6 with 24 abstentions on “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.”

Countries that opposed were Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and the United States.

Countries that abstained were Albania, Australia, Belgium, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Panama, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom.

This text, unlike the first one, specifically calls on Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty and to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA inspection.

The resolution recalled that “Israel remains the only country in the Middle East that has not yet become a party to the treaty.”

In a GA conference on Middle East nuclear disarmament held on Friday, the Iranian representative said that a nuclear-free Middle East zone can’t be established “as long as Israel refuses to participate while the US supports it and does not cooperate with” the initiative.

In a debate at the GA in October, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said, “The Non-Proliferation Treaty in itself does not provide a remedy for the unique security challenges of the region, let alone the repeated violations of the treaty by some of its member states. Four of the five cases of serious violations of the NPT took place in the Middle East.”