The Arab League will press forward with an initiative that would see Israel singled out for criticism over its alleged nuclear arsenal at a meeting of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog this week.
The bid, which the US tried to stymie this week, reflects mounting frustration in the Arab world over the deferment of an international conference on the banning of atomic arms in the region, Reuters reported Friday.
If the resolution is passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Israel will be called upon to sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and submit to IAEA scrutiny of its nuclear facilities.
Diplomats were expecting the vote to be close, Reuters said.
Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, who heads the Arab League group at the IAEA, was quoted as saying that the vote would show the world that “Israel is not playing a constructive role.”
The Arab initiative is part of mounting international pressure on Israel to relinquish — or at least admit to possessing — weapons of mass destruction. The heightened interest in the Jewish state’s alleged nuclear, chemical and biological weapons comes amid indications from Iran that it’s ready to show flexibility in nuclear talks, and in the wake of a Russian-brokered deal that would see Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons shipped off and eventually destroyed.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Assad’s decision to amass chemical weapons was “in response to Israel’s nuclear capabilities” and that “Israel has technological superiority and doesn’t need nuclear weapons.”
According to a report in the September/October issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Israel possesses a stockpile of 80 nuclear warheads, all of which were produced by 2004, when Israel froze all production.
Israel’s nuclear program has long been shrouded in secrecy, with the country maintaining a policy of ambiguity while refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Previous estimates have put the number of warheads in Israel’s possession at up to 400. According to foreign reports, Israel’s military has the capacity to deliver a nuclear payload via a variety of methods, including ballistic missiles, aircraft, and submarine-launched cruise missiles.