‘Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal’

May 26th, 2008 - 6:05 pm ICT by admin  

London/Tel Aviv, May 26 (DPA) Israel has 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal, former US President Jimmy Carter said in remarks published Monday. His statement, quoted by The Times, appeared to be the first time a former US president stated publicly the number of nuclear warheads Israel supposedly has in its possession.

Israel has for decades clung to its policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” refusing to confirm or deny whether or not it has nuclear weapons. The “deterrence” policy aims at keeping enemy Arab states from attacking Israel.

Israel first began developing a nuclear reactor in its southern desert town of Dimona in the 1950s.

It is unclear if and when it developed its first nuclear weapon and how many of them it has since obtained, but foreign intelligence estimates have commonly put the number at up to 200.

Carter was elected president in 1976 and defeated in his 1980 re-election bid by Ronald Reagan.

Since his presidency, he has over the years become known as a fierce critic of Israel’s policies.

According to The Times, Carter made the remark at the Hay-on-Wye festival, which promotes current affairs books and literature. US officials normally do not address the issue, in line with Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Carter also told the festival that “my advice to the US would be to start talking to Iran now” to persuade it to drop its nuclear work.

DPA could not immediately reach to Israeli government spokespersons for a reaction.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |