US installed special radar system for the protection of the Israeli nuclear plant in Dimona in the Negev. (Getty images)
Member states of the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA rejected on Friday an Arab-proposed resolution calling on "nuclear-armed" Israel to join a global anti-atomic arms treaty. US administration has pledged to shield Israel from criticising at the meeting, pressing countries to vote against the resolution.
An assembly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency last year approved a resolution calling on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation treaty.
The general assembly of the 151-member International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) failed to pass the resolution with 51 against, 46 votes for and 23 abstentions. It had approved a similar resolution expressing concern at "Israel's Nuclear Capabilities" in a close vote at last year's General Conference, as the annual IAEA gathering is known. Several small countries, including some in Latin America such as Costa Rica and Panama, who were absent in 2009 voted against the measure this time. Like last year, Russia and China supported the text.
"It is Israel that singles itself out by standing aloof from the consensus of all the other states in the region which have acceded to the NPT," a Sudanese diplomat told the assembly, speaking for the Arab group. "It stands alone in refusing to place its nuclear facilities under the agency safeguards."
Israel, which most experts estimate that it has at least between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, would have to open all its nuclear facilities under the IAEA's perusal if it signed the NPT.
The 2009 resolution called on IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to prepare a report on how to implement it. Amano published his report earlier this month, saying he had invited Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Arab countries slammed Amano's report as "weak and disappointing, devoid of any substance and not up to the typical level of the Agency's reporting...".
Some states including Turkey often point to Israel's nuclear arms in the region as US, West increase their pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme.