Israel Alone in Opposing Middle East Nuclear-Free Zone at UN General Assembly

Israel was the only country to oppose the UN General Assembly call for a      nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The resolution passed with a 178-1 vote, with two absentations:      the United States and Cameroon. Iran supported the text, and the Iranian representative said that a nuclear-free Middle East zone can’t be established “as long as Israel refuses to participate while the US supports it and does not cooperate with the initiative.”

Israeli F-35 fighter jets fly in formation during the military’s US-Israeli Blue Flag exercise in October 2021 (Photo: Israeli army)

The resolution calls on all Middle Eastern countries “not to develop, produce, test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or permit the stationing on their territories, or territories under their control, of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.”

The General Assembly      asked that countries in the region “place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.” It also called for Middle East countries to adhere to the Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Israel is not a party to the NPT but is one of nine nations to possess nuclear weapons, along with the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Israel has never admitted to having such weapons.

The GA approved a second resolution, 157-6 with 24 abstentions, on “the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.” Countries that opposed were Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, and the US. This text, unlike the first one, specifically calls on Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty and to place its nuclear facilities under the watch of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. The resolution recalled that “Israel remains the only country in the Middle East that has not yet become a party to the treaty.”

More threats against Iran

The head of the Mossad spy agency declared that a bad nuclear deal between world powers and Iran would be “intolerable” for Israel, vowing that the Islamic Republic will never acquire nuclear weapons.

“Iran will not have nuclear weapons — not in the coming years, not ever. That is my promise, that is Mossad’s promise,” David Barnea said during a ceremony at the President’s Residence to honor exceptional Mossad agents on Thursday.

“A bad deal, which I hope will not be made, is intolerable to us,” he added. “Iran is striving for regional hegemony, wages terrorism that we are blocking every day around the world, and is continuously threatening stability in the Middle East.”

Asked about plans for a potential strike on Iranian nuclear sites during a rare television interview aired the same day, Israeli Air Force head Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said the army was prioritizing preparations for such a possibility. However, he did not directly respond when asked by Channel 13      if the air force can fully neutralize the threat of a nuclear Iran.      

“We always need to be ready with a military option, and therefore this has become a high priority,” Norkin said.