Western countries have once again blocked a resolution proposed by Arab states to the UN nuclear agency criticizing Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons.
The draft was put forward by 32 countries during the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual General Conference in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on Friday to criticize Israel’s refusal to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons.
The proposed resolution was defeated by 51 votes against and 43 in favor. Thirty-two countries abstained.
Oman’s Ambassador to the IAEA Badr Mohamed Zaher Al Hinai, who talked on behalf of the Arab states, said the proposed resolution “could resuscitate” efforts towards a nuclear-free Middle East, AFP reported.
He also accused Western countries of applying double standards with regard to the issue of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Israel, which is believed to be the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, has refused to acknowledge that it possesses nuclear weapons and is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Its Arab neighbors say Israel’s nuclear weapons threaten peace in the Middle East region and have repeatedly called on Israel to join the NPT and allow IAEA inspectors to visit all its nuclear facilities.
Most experts estimate that Israel holds between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, largely based on information leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in the 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a former worker at the Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor.
Israel, which has started several wars in the region in its 65-year history of occupation, maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity over its nuclear weapons program and does not allow international inspectors to visit its nuclear sites.