‘Are we hearing an official statement that Israel has nuclear weapons?’ asks Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
Russia said Tuesday that statements by a far-right Israeli minister that the country could launch a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip raises “a huge number of questions” about Tel Aviv’s long-cryptic stance on its alleged possession of such arms.
“Question number one is, are we hearing an official statement that Israel has nuclear weapons?” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked in a live TV interview after the comments by Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu to local media on Sunday.
“Where are the international organizations? Where is the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)? Where are the inspectors?” Zakharova added.
Eliyahu, a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, had told Israeli media on Sunday that dropping a “nuclear bomb” on the Gaza Strip was “an option.” Israel has long refused to publicly acknowledge whether it possesses nuclear arms.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had distanced himself from the statement and, according to media reports, suspended Eliyahu from Cabinet meetings until further notice.
Such statements give insight into why Israel has opposed the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, accusing the US of supporting and contributing to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
“If this program exists and existed, where were the tests carried out, at what test sites? Obviously, apparently not in the region, then where? And isn’t the US behind all this?” she said.
The spokeswoman also touched on statements made by Israeli officials regarding Russia, saying these were “unacceptable,” adding that Israel’s ambassador in Moscow had been informed of the issue.