International

Arab countries put spotlight on Israel at IAEA meeting

U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Glyn Davies briefs the media during the IAEA's board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, on Thursday. Photo: AP.

U.S. Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Glyn Davies briefs the media during the IAEA's board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, on Thursday. Photo: AP.  

Arab countries singled out Israel at the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday for blocking the establishment of a Middle Eastern zone free of nuclear arms, at the first IAEA board meeting since 1991 to deal with Israel.

In past years the IAEA’s governing board focussed on Iran’s alleged military nuclear activities, but Arab countries managed to bring a discussion on Israel’s nuclear weapons before the 35—country body this time.

The Arab countries said that “Israel continues to defy the international community, through its continued refusal to accede to the treaty on non—proliferation of nuclear weapons,” and by not allowing the IAEA to inspect its nuclear programme.

Israel is considered to possess nuclear weapons, although its government does not confirm this as a matter of policy.

In its statement, Israel said it opposed any actions which run counter to its national security, according to a meeting participant.

The countries pushing for the IAEA board debate were the ones that do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, the statement said.

"Israel follows aggressive policies towards Arab countries"

The Arab countries said that “we cannot fail but also point out that the concern of the Israeli nuclear danger is reinforced byIsrael’s aggressive policies towards Arab countries.” Echoing the Arab stance, Iran’s IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh brought up last week’s bloody Israeli seizure of aid ships for the Gaza Strip as a way of illustrating Israel’s policies.

Mr. Soltanieh repeated his call for an IAEA fact—finding mission to Israel, despite the fact that the country has no legal obligation to allow such a move.

“I also declared that the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to bear the cost of such a historical inspection,” he said.

Representatives of the United States and the European Union were not happy with seeing Israel being put in the spotlight. “Singling out Israel for censure is in our view both counterproductive and inappropriate,” US ambassador Glyn Davies said.

The EU pointed out that a conference to set up a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East was planned for 2012, and that IAEA board discussions on Israel were not useful in this regard.

However, the Israeli government said in late May it would not take part in such a conference.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 1:28:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Arab-countries-put-spotlight-on-Israel-at-IAEA-meeting/article16242444.ece

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