Arab states snub US over Israel resolution at IAEA meet

"The Arab Group urges to keep the item 'Israeli nuclear capabilities' on the agenda of the general conference and... will submit a draft resolution" to the assembly next week, Sudan's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Mahmound El-Amin said, speaking on behalf of 22 Arab states.

"The Arab Group requests the IAEA member states to support the draft resolution and vote in favour of it."

El-Amin made the statement to a closed-door session of the IAEA's 35-member board of governors which is preparing for the organisation's 54th annual general conference next week.

Earlier, the United States and the European Union had pressed Arab countries to withdraw their resolution -- which calls on Israel to sign up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- so as not to jeopardise Middle East peace talks.

Washington even flew in President Barack Obama's top nuclear advisor, Gary Samore, to Vienna earlier this week to try and persuade Arab nations to drop their plans.

The IAEA, which is investigating both Iran and Syria for alleged illicit nuclear activity, used "double standards" when dealing with Israel and a recent report by agency chief Yukiya Amano on the matter was "weak and disappointing," El-Amin argued.

It was "devoid of any substance and not up to the typical level of the agency's reporting" and that was why the Arab countries would not drop their resolution.

Brussels and Washington believe that zeroing in on the Jewish state would jeopardise a proposed conference in 2012 on the creation of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

It could also have a negative effect on relaunched peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel is believed to be the only Middle East power to possess nuclear weapons. Every year, Arab members of the IAEA table the same anti-Israeli resolution at the watchdog's week-long general conference, which brings together all 151 IAEA member states. Last year the Arab states succeeded in having it adopted by a very narrow majority.

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