VIENNA, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Israel
said on Tuesday an Arab-led campaign to single it out at the UN atomic watchdog could undermine any arms control measures in the Middle East.
The warning highlighted US concern that the Arab drive at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would upset a plan to hold a conference in 2012 towards establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
Arab states have put forward a non-binding resolution at this week's annual assembly of the 151-member IAEA calling on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear arms treaty, seeking to repeat a narrow diplomatic victory from last year's meeting.
Israel, widely believed to have the region's only nuclear arsenal, says it won't consider joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty until there is comprehensive Middle East peace. If it signed the NPT, it would have to forswear nuclear weaponry.
Arab states say there cannot be peace in the Middle East until Israel gives up nuclear arms. Israel has never confirmed nor denied having atomic bombs, under a policy of ambiguity to deter its Arab and Islamic adversaries.
Director General Shaul Chorev of Israel's Atomic Energy Organisation condemned what he called continuous ill-motivated efforts to single out and to condemn the State of Israel, in his speech to the IAEA gathering.
He said the proposed resolution is incompatible with basic principles and norms of international law
Any approach that...singles out the State of Israel not only weakens the ability of the international community to confront (nuclear) proliferators and violators but also defeats the prospect for advancement of arms control measures in the Middle East region, Chorev said.
The United States and its allies have urged the Arab states to withdraw the draft resolution, saying it could undermine the Egyptian-proposed 2012 conference and also send a negative signal to the revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
US officials have suggested that Israel would be unlikely to attend the conference if it was targeted at the IAEA.
Israel and the United States regard Iran as the Middle East's main proliferation threat, accusing it of seeking to develop atomic weapons in secret. Tehran rejects the charge.
Israel has condemned the Arab resolution as a politically motivated manoeuvre by foes that question its existence to divert attention from what it sees as the region's main proliferation risks -- Iran and Syria.
Iran continues its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons in complete disregard of all relevant resolutions taken by the international community, said Chorev.