VIENNA — A 151-nation meeting of the UN nuclear agency narrowly defeated an Arab push yesterday to censure Israel for shielding its nuclear programs from inspection in a closely watched result that the United States said was a positive signal for ongoing Mideast peace talks.
The Israeli Atomic Energy Agency expressed hope that the Arab League “will refrain from raising the proposal again next year.’’ But Iran vowed it would be reintroduced. “The US and Israeli allies have confronted . . . the whole world, and this is a dark page in history for their foreign policy,’’ Iranian delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters. “They put fuel in the fire.’’
Of the nations present at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general assembly, 51 voted against a resolution called “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities.’’ Forty six voted for, 23 abstained, and the rest were absent.
US chief delegate Glyn Davies said the vote was significant in the context of continuing peace talks and US-backed plans to stage a conference in two years on a Mideast nuclear-free zone.
“It preserves a chance for the movement eventually toward a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, once peace there is achieved,’’ Davies said.