Israeli PM makes rare allusion to country’s arsenal of nuclear weapons

Speaking at an event marking a change of leadership at the country’s Atomic Energy Commission, Lapid discussed Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities, as well as what he called its “other capabilities” – understood as a reference to nuclear weapons.

“The operational arena in the invisible dome above us is built on defensive capabilities and offensive capabilities, and what foreign media tend to call ‘other capabilities.’ These other capabilities keep us alive and will keep us alive as long as we and our children are here,” Lapid said.

Israel is widely believed to possess a few hundred nuclear weapons, developing the technology in the 1960s. Unlike most supposedly nuclear-weapon states, Israel has never officially declared possession.

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Instead, it pursues a policy of “opacity” – meaning Israeli leaders, when pressured, have preferred to make only an oblique or ambiguous reference to nuclear weapons.

The first such statement was made in the early 1960s by then young defense minister Shimon Peres, who said that Israel “certainly would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region. “.

More recently, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to acknowledge nuclear capability when he listed Israel, along with the United States, Russia and France, as having nuclear weapons, although he later attempted to come back to the comments, which were made on German television. .

Benjamin Netanyahu also called Israel a “nuclear power” during a presentation to his cabinet, before correcting himself by saying “energy power”.