Sunday March 8, 2009
A US military document has classified Israel as “a nuclear power” — a status Tel Aviv has for years refused to either confirm or deny.
A document approved for publication in late 2008 by the US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) has termed Israel “a nuclear power” on a par with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported Sunday.
JFCOM is one of ten combatant commands in the United States Department of Defense, the only command focused on the transformation of US military capabilities.
Among the duties of the command is to develop future concepts for joint war fighting and training.
The Virginia-based command warned of a “growing nuclear arc” extending from “Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India and on to China, North Korea and Russia in the east”.
The report adds that “unfortunately” the arc “coincides with areas of considerable instability [which] are of enormous interest to the United States”.
Under its policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ Israel has neither admitted nor denied possessing nuclear weapons. However, it is believed to have up to 200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
Tel Aviv’s policy of deliberate ambiguity was first skewed when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in late 2006 said: “Can you say that this is the same level when they [Iran] are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?”
An Israeli spokesman later said Olmert did not mean to say that Israel has nuclear weapons, but instead had meant to describe America, France, Israel and Russia as democracies.
A year later, the then-French president Jacques Chirac hinted that Israel would counter any Iranian attack with a nuclear weapon. “Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed,” he said in an interview published in The New York Times and Le Nouvel Observateur.
He retracted his comments a day later, lamenting that he had spoken casually and quickly. “I should rather have paid attention to what I was saying and understood that perhaps I was on the record,” he said.
This article was posted: Sunday, March 8, 2009 at 10:25 am