IAEA members adopt resolution on Middle East without nuclear arms
Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Saturday called on Middle Eastern nations to take steps towards establishing a region free of nuclear weapons, dpa reported.
Delegates at the nuclear watchdog's annual general conference in Vienna adopted a resolution calling on all states in the region to accept IAEA inspections, and to accede and adhere to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which bans the development of nuclear arms.
Eighty-two nations voted in favour of the resolution, none against and 13, including the United States and Israel, abstained.
Pending the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons, countries should not "develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons," according to the resolution.
Israel is the only country in the region that is not a signatory of the NPT and therefore accepts only limited IAEA inspections.
Its government is believed to have atomic weapons, but it neither confirms nor denies its military nuclear capacity as a matter of national policy.
On Israel's initiative, the conference also added an indirect reference to Iran and Syria to the resolution, calling on states in the region to comply with their obligations on cooperating with IAEA inspections.
The IAEA has received intelligence from various countries indicating Iran might have been involved in nuclear weapons research in the past. Tehran asserts it was never involved in military nuclear work.
In June, agency inspectors began probing a Syrian site alleged to have been a secret nuclear reactor under construction. After Israel bombed the facility last year, the US provided the IAEA with intelligence that started the investigation.
The inspector's first investigations are still inconclusive. Damascus maintains the site was a civilian nuclear facility.
Later on Saturday, the IAEA conference was to take up a separate draft resolution by several Arab countries expressing concern about Israel's nuclear capabilities.
In past years, attempts to have such a resolution adopted failed.
The IAEA general conference was scheduled to end Saturday evening.