Israel must open its nuclear reactors to atomic agency inspectors after Gaza bombing, says Qatar

Israel must open its nuclear reactors to atomic agency inspectors after Gaza bombing, says Qatar
Israel's most recent bombardment of Gaza has cast further doubt on whether the country can be trusted with a nuclear weapon, a Qatari representative told governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
3 min read
14 June, 2021
The International Atomic Energy Agency is headquartered in Vienna, Austria [Getty Images]

Qatar has called on Israel to open its nuclear facilities to inspection by the world’s top nuclear watchdog.

Sultan bin Salmeen Al Mansouri, Qatar’s top diplomatic representative in Vienna, said that Israel’s actions during its recent offensive on the Gaza Strip should cast questions on whether the country can be trusted with nuclear weapons.

Israel is widely believed to be a nuclear power despite officials not confirming the claims.

"The State of Qatar stressed the importance of Israel cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding its nuclear capabilities, and to open its atomic reactors to inspectors," read a statement by the Qatari foreign ministry on Saturday.

"[The Gaza war] raised fundamental questions about whether Israel behaves as a responsible state and uses its weapons in accordance with the rules of international law, and if there are guarantees that Israel will not use its weapons in an irresponsible way in the future, including the terrifying possibility of using nuclear weapons.”

The Qatari official made the call at a session with the IAEA Board of Governors in the Austrian capital, which took place on Thursday.

Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, is currently the setting for talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, signed in 2015.

For years, Israeli officials have condemned the deal, saying it will not stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, claiming the country's civilian nuclear programme and military purposes.

Iranian nuclear scientists are believed to have been assassinated by Israeli agents in recent years.

A former Israeli intelligence chief has even signalled that recent attacks on the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran were conducted by Israel

Qatar recently insisted it will not normalise ties with Israel after a number of regional countries established diplomatic relations despite an Arab League boycott of the country.

Relations between Israel and Qatar worsened during Israel’s most recent bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which Doha condemned

Qatar was among Arab states that said to the IAEA in 2020 that Israel must open its sites to inspection by the nuclear watchdog. 

"Israel alone possesses nuclear capabilities which are undeclared and not subject to international control, thus constituting a permanent threat to peace and security in the region," the IAEA’s Arab member states said in a letter.

Israel dismissed the letter as an "anti-Israeli initiative".

Though Israel does have a safeguard agreement with the IAEA, it is “item-specific” – so less comprehensive than the agreements the IAEA has with most nations.

However, the IAEA said that the agreement ensures that Israel does not use its nuclear capabilities "for the manufacture of any nuclear weapon or to further any military purpose, and that such items are used exclusively for peaceful purposes and not for the manufacture of any nuclear explosive device".