Syria pushed for a ban on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East on Monday, using its final days on the UN Security Council to highlight the issue of Israel's nuclear arms.
Syrian Ambassador Faisal Mikdad, whose two-year term on the 15-nation council expires at midnight on Wednesday, has asked the UN body to take up a resolution drafted by Damascus in April that is intended to rid the Middle East region of all nuclear, biological and chemical arms.
But in a closed-door meeting, diplomats said, a number of the council's member nations including the United States, Britain and Pakistan expressed concerns with the Syrian text and Mikdad said he would not push for a quick vote.
The Syrian draft was "wrong in substance, wrong in timing," Deputy US Ambassador James Cunningham said.
"We don't expect the resolution to make much progress," British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters.
The draft calls for "freeing the Middle East region of all weapons of mass destruction" and asks Secretary-General
Kofi Annan to verify whether the measure, once passed, is implemented.
Syria asked for Monday's meeting after the council last week issued a statement welcoming Libya's announcement that it was voluntarily abandoning its programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction.
But Arab envoys said the draft was aimed at embarrassing Israel, known to be the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons though it has never officially acknowledged possessing them.
The draft resolution "is applicable to everybody, but in fact Israel is the real address in this regard, whether we like it or not, because Israel has all these kinds of weapons" and has not ratified most non-proliferation treaties, Mikdad said.
Israel is widely reckoned to have about 200 nuclear warheads.