Fifth day of the 55th IAEA General Conference

Sep 24 2011
VERTIC Blog >> Arms Control and Disarmament
Sonia Drobysz and Kate Farrell, Vienna 

Earlier tonight, the IAEA General Conference ended with the adoption of resolutions on application of safeguards in the Middle East and nuclear security, but failed on safeguards and postponed discussions on Israeli nuclear capabilities.
Application of safeguards in the Middle East
The final day of the IAEA General Conference began with discussions on the resolution on safeguards in the Middle East. Israel moved that paragraph 2 – which 'calls upon all States in the region to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons' – be voted on separately. The paragraph passed with 111 votes in favour, 10 abstentions, and one 'no' (from Israel).
The full resolution on application of safeguards in the Middle East, submitted by Egypt, then went to the vote. With only three abstentions, including one from the US, the resolution passed.
The United States explained that its abstention should not lessen the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, but that the country would like all decisions on the Middle East to be made by consensus.
Israeli nuclear capabilities
After adoption of the Middle East resolution, the conference debated the agenda item titled 'Israeli Nuclear Capabilities'. The Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement expressed their concerns that Israel had not yet acceded to the NPT and placed all its facilities under safeguards, while independent reports had established that the country possessed a huge nuclear arsenal.
They also explained why, according to them, the Israel Nuclear Capabilities resolution was important and in accordance with the IAEA Statute. Lebanon, speaking on behalf of the Arab League, nonetheless said that for the sake of giving a final chance to international efforts and as a good gesture, they had decided not to table the resolution this year and to postpone its discussion.
Nuclear security resolution
The nuclear security resolution was adopted by consensus, as controversies over mentions of nuclear security summits in the preamble were finally overcome. 
Indeed, some delegations raised the lack of legitimacy of such events which, according to them, only gather a minority of states. The final text reflects that position, as it emphasizes 'the need for the involvement of all member states of the Agency in nuclear security-related activities and initiatives in an inclusive manner'.
Explicit reference is at the same time made to 'the role that international processes and initiatives, including Nuclear Security Summits and the one to be held in Seoul in 2012, could play in facilitating synergy and cooperation in the area of nuclear security'.
No resolution on safeguards
The resolution titled ‘Strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system and application of the Model Additional Protocol’ was discussed at length. No consensus was reached.
After several hours of informal negotiations, it was decided that the Director General should report on this issue to the 56th IAEA General Conference, but no text was adopted.  
Tonight at 10:35pm in Vienna, the 55th IAEA General Conference drew to a close. Next week, the newly-elected Governors will meet convene their first meeting.

Last changed: Sep 24 2011 at 7:37 PM