In a lopsided 161-5 vote, the UN General Assembly on Tuesday approved an anti-Israel resolution backed by Arab nations. The resolution calls on Israel to not only subject its nuclear facilities to international oversight, but also to renounce possession of nuclear weapons.
According to Associated Press, the resolution pointed out that Israel is the only country in its region to have not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The resolution demands that Israel “accede to that treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons” and put its nuclear facilities under the inspection regime of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
The resolution was introduced by Egypt. The only countries voting against the measure were Israel, the United States, Canada, Palau, and Micronesia. Eighteen countries abstained.
As the resolution comes from the General Assembly, it is not legally binding. However, it does carry weight due to the General Assembly representing all 193 UN countries.
Israel is widely considered to possess nuclear weapons but has never confirmed whether or not that is the case. Israel instead maintains strategic ambiguity, saying only than that it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the region. Israel also argues that Iranian efforts at developing nuclear weapons are the real threat to the region. Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.
The resolution, titled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,” promoted a Middle East nuclear-free zone.
U.S. representative Robert Wood criticized the resolution, saying that the measure “fails to meet the fundamental tests of fairness and balance. It confines itself to expressions of concern about the activities of a single country.” He said that such measures only serve to undermine progress on eliminating nuclear weapons from the region.