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IAEA members agree on call for nuclear free Mideast

Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency agreed to call for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, with more countries supporting the resolution than last year.

world Updated: Sep 18, 2009 07:26 IST
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Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed on Thursday to call for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, with more countries supporting the resolution than last year.

At the IAEA's annual general conference, 103 countries voted in favour, none against. Only four abstained - including the US and Israel. Last year, 13 countries abstained on a similar resolution.

Consensus on the resolution was reached only after an indirect reference to Iran and Syria was included in Egypt's draft text.

A deal was reached in discussions in the last days involving Egypt, Israel, Sweden - holding the current European Union presidency - and the US, according to diplomats.

Alluding to Iran and Syria, the final text of the adopted resolution called on all states in the Middle East to "to cooperate fully with the IAEA within the framework of their respective obligations".

The IAEA said in a recent report that it has made no headway in confirming whether Iran conducted research related to nuclear weapons in the past.

The Vienna-based nuclear agency has also been trying in vain to get more access to Syria, in order to verify whether a site bombed by Israel in 2007 was indeed a secret nuclear reactor under construction.

"We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected in Vienna on Friday in the discussions that we've had on this issue this week," US ambassador Glyn Davies said.