The general assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency voted on Thursday against a resolution calling for international monitoring of Israel’s nuclear facilities.
Sixty-one countries voted against the resolution, including the entire European Union, while 43 countries voted for it and 33 states abstained.
The resolution, which has been regularly presented by Arab countries, was spearheaded by Egypt at the annual plenum of the UN’s nuclear watchdog and backed by the UN’s so-called Arab Bloc.
Jerusalem hailed the vote as a diplomatic victory, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying in a statement that his efforts to lobby fellow leaders had paid off.
“I personally spoke with over 30 presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers,” Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday night. “”In my conversations, I explained that it is inappropriate to hold a discussion of this sort while the main problem in the Middle East remains Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear arms and its clear declarations of its intent to destroy Israel.”
The prime minister singled out the United States, Australia, Canada and the European Union for thanks.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said the vote was “a great victory for Israel on the international arena.”
Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and has never acknowledged the possession of nuclear arms, instead maintaining an official policy of “nuclear ambiguity.” The resolution would have called upon Israel to join the NPT and forced it to place any nuclear installations under IAEA oversight.
The resolution included a clause calling Israel’s nuclear arsenal “a permanent threat to peace and security in the region.”
“All Member States of the Agency are called on to cooperate in order to remedy this situation resulting from the fact that Israel alone possesses nuclear capabilities which are undeclared and not subject to international control,” the text read.
The United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, European Union states, the Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, some Latin American countries including Uruguay and Panama and some Pacific and African countries all voted against the resolution.
Brazil and India abstained, among others.
Russia, Turkey, South Africa and all Arab countries voted for the resolution.
The resolution was presented by the Qatari envoy to the IAEA. Titled “Israel’s nuclear capabilities,” the resolution calls on Israel to join the NPT and to open its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors.
The Iranian envoy said Israel’s nuclear capabilities, which, he claimed, included atomic weapons, have always been a source of concern for Middle Eastern countries.
The Israeli “regime” continues to develop its nuclear program in violation of international norms, he said. He noted that Israeli nuclear scientists have received access to the nuclear facilities of nuclear-weapons armed states, while Iranian nuclear scientists were killed by “terrorists.”
Israel has never claimed responsibility for such assassinations but it is believed that the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, may have been behind the assassinations or cooperated with the American CIA to kill them.
Israel’s envoy to the IAEA, David Danieli, presented the Israeli position at the session preceding the vote. He mentioned that a similar resolution was turned down last year and called on all member states to turn down the resolution this year as well.
The resolution, Danieli said, politicized the IAEA and diverted its discussions from the issues with which it should deal. Danieli called the resolution one that isolated Israel and harms trust among the countries of the region. Israel’s Arab neighbors, he said, continue to choose a path of condemnation in every possible forum, instead of choosing dialogue.
The Syrian envoy insisted that Israel cannot be left outside the NPT. He said the time has come to pressure the country to answer the demands of the international community and to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
According to foreign sources, Israel possesses between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads. It is also in possession of long-range ballistic missiles and also has second-strike capabilities through its submarines, which reportedly carry nuclear-tipped torpedoes.