In A Slip, Israel’s Leader Seems To Confirm Its Nuclear Arsenal

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
New York Times
December 12, 2006
Pg. 5

By Greg Myre
JERUSALEM, Dec. 11 — Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, appeared to acknowledge inadvertently during a TV interview shown Monday that Israel has nuclear weapons, an issue on which the Jewish state has sought to maintain ambiguity for decades.
However, Mr. Olmert’s aides said later that there was no change in Israel’s policy of refusing to confirm or deny whether it has nuclear weapons.
In an interview with the N24 cable news channel in Germany, Mr. Olmert was asked about Iran’s nuclear program. He gave a lengthy response, saying that the United States, France, Britain and Russia had nuclear weapons, and were “civilized countries that do not threaten the foundations of the world.”
Mr. Olmert then added: “Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as America, France, Israel, Russia?”
The interview was held Friday in Israel but shown Monday, timed to coincide with Mr. Olmert’s visit to Germany.
Mr. Olmert’s spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said by telephone, “Israel’s policy has not changed.” The prime minister and other officials have consistently said that Israel would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
For decades, Israel has refused to say whether or not it has nuclear weapons despite the seemingly universal belief that it possesses them.
While Israel prefers not to discuss the nuclear issue at all, the policy of intentional ambiguity is seen as a way of creating a deterrent, without making it explicit, a position that could invite sanctions or encourage an arms race in the Middle East.
Avner Cohen, an Israeli who has written about Israel’s nuclear program, said that “Israel’s ambiguity policy has become so anachronistic.”
“The world has taken Israel as a nuclear weapons state for about 40 years,” said Mr. Cohen, a senior research fellow at the University of Maryland.
He said that in the 1970s, an Israeli president, Ephraim Katzir, caused a stir when he accidentally acknowledged that Israel had nuclear capability. “An older generation of leaders had a real taboo about talking about this,” Mr. Cohen said. But Mr. Olmert, he added, is of a younger generation that “treats the issue much more normally.”
Last week, Robert M. Gates also seemed to acknowledge an Israeli nuclear arsenal, at his Senate confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense. Of Iran, he said, “They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf.”
This doesn't make it so necessarily though. This was just after brief combat with Hamas, may have been appearance of slip but it may have been on purpose as sort of a warning to the Iranian freaks the great Israelites have to deal with.