Israel’s prime minister rarely refers to his country’s nuclear arsenal

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

“The operational arena in the hidden dome above us is built on defensive capabilities, offensive capabilities, and what the 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.”

Israel is widely believed to possess a few hundred nuclear weapons, and developed the technology in the 1960s. Unlike most presumed nuclear weapons states, Israel has not officially announced its possession.

Instead, it pursues a policy of “obfuscation” – meaning that Israeli leaders, when pressed, preferred to refer only indirectly or vaguely to nuclear weapons.

The first such statement was issued 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.”

Recently, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to have acknowledged the nuclear capability when he stated that Israel, along with the United States, Russia and France, possessed nuclear weapons, although he later tried to dismiss comments that were broadcast on German television.

Benjamin Netanyahu once again referred to Israel as a “nuclear power” during a presentation to his cabinet, before correcting himself to say “energy power”.

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