U.S. Envoy Rejects Anti-Israeli Nuclear Measure

National Journal

The United States on Tuesday spoke out against a resolution before a U.N. body condemning Israeli nuclear weapons, arguing the proposal would hamper efforts to ban weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, according to Reuters.

The draft resolution from Arab nations -- which emerged this week at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual General Conference in Vienna -- “does not advance our shared goal of progress toward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East," Joseph Macmanus, U.S. envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, told the wire service.

"Instead, it undermines efforts at constructive dialogue toward that common objective,” he stated in an e-mail.

The nonbinding resolution from the Arab states reportedly calls on Israel to take steps including placing its atomic facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards and joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear nation. The annual IAEA conference adopted a similar resolution in 2009.

Iranian and Arab-government officials have been concerned about Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal. Israel is widely assumed to be the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East.

The Arab move at the Vienna gathering comes amid delays in kicking off a major multi-nation conference on designating the Middle East as an area free of all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The Mideast weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone meeting, sponsored by the United Nations, previously was expected to be held in late 2012. A new date has not yet been set.

U.S. officials have stood by their Israeli counterparts in arguing that a WMD-free zone cannot be established in the Middle East until Iran curbs its suspected nuclear program, and Israel and Arab nations reach a broader peace consensus. Iran maintains its nuclear-development efforts are not intended to develop weapons.

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