Olmert Accidentally Admits to Israel's Nukes

Via Reuters, Olmert on German TV:

“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?”

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Olmert’s alleged slip-of-the-tongue follows similar remarks made by incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Gates is accused by Israeli officials of breaching the U.S. government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement with the Jewish state.
[Update] AFP reports,

Miri Eisin, the premier’s spokeswoman, said that Olmert who on Monday started a visit to Berlin had not meant to list the Jewish state among countries with nuclear weapons.
“Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons to the region,” she told AFP, using the country’s standard phrase at the heart of its longstanding “policy of ambiguity” on whether it has the bomb.
Olmert’s comments caused an uproar on the political scene back home.
Right-wing opposition Likud MP Yuval Steinitz called for the prime minister to resign after having made “an irresponsible slip which puts into question a policy that dates back almost half a century”.
Leftist MP Yossi Beilin said “the staggering comments of Ehud Olmert only serve to reinforce the doubts on his capacity to remain prime minister”.

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14 thoughts on “Olmert Accidentally Admits to Israel's Nukes

  1. I never understood this, can someone explain it to me? Everyone knows Israel has nukes. Israel knows it, the Arabs know it, Iran knows it, America, Russia and France know it. So do we play this don’t ask don’t tell game? We do have nukes don’t we? Is it one giant bluff?

  2. As I understand it, the “real reason” is that US law says that America has to cut off aid to any country who has nuclear weapons but doesn’t submit to IAEA inspections.

  3. A big problem with this policy that has to be taken into account is that it re-enforces the idea that Israel doesn’t negotiate in good faith and is dishonest. As Chaim wrote : “Everyone knows Israel has nukes. Israel knows it, the Arabs know it, Iran knows it, America, Russia and France know it.
    Well yeah. We all know Israel has nukes. Yet every time it gets brought up we get to watch Israeli spokespeople lie right to our face, splitting hairs and playing word games. We’ve watched every Israeli PM for decades lie about it, and the thing is they’re very convincing.

  4. They don’t always lie about it. I’ve been at a conference where an Israeli Foreign ministry guy said “and, if we got a nuclear reactor/weapons material,, France gave it to us”. There is a significant issue of US law here. But Israeli’s aren’t going to say they don’t have it in any situation other than very official ones.

  5. Does Olmert’s parapraxis mean that Vanunu will be released from his ridiculous ‘house arrest,’ and be allowed to emigrate to the US?

  6. D’oh! There goes ‘strategic ambiguity’. :-/
    JB: A nice little theory. Too bad that Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and therefore there’s no agreement for Israel to theoretically break. And as for the so-called “threat” of US sanctions, have you been following the US’s reversal of their sanctions against India for their nuclear tests?
    Israel might very well be justified in being ambiguous, since an untested weapon as intricate and complex as a thermonuclear device is hardly reliable. It could work, or it could fizzle. Therefore, it’s potential potency is ambiguous.
    Finally, what does a declaration of nuclear arms do for Israel? Bupkes, that’s what. It will be interpreted as a threat by all of Israel’s hostile neighbors. I mean, the Arab press already attributes to Israel’s arsenal every evil weapon imaginable, from nuclear weapons to bioweapons that somehow can discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish victims. Oh, and they control world finance, too. The Arab world is very big on conspiracy theories, and Israel is their favorite scape-goat for all their ills. So saying that “the Arabs know it” isn’t saying much…

  7. Hmmm, Olmert ‘accidentally’ mentions Israels nuclear weapons program just days after Gates ‘accidentally’ mentioned it. Being that both countries have done a good job of ‘purposefully’ not-mentioning it for the past 30+ years, I have a feeling these statements are not so accidental.

  8. I also am trying to convince myself that this is our method of “flexing.” But, if this were the case, wouldnt the Israeli Media understand this too, and get of of Olmert’s back? Are they so stupid that they can’t see this for what it is? Or just another excuse to pile on to a loser PM?

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