What we already knew about Israel

As Spiegel put it, “Israel’s official position has long been that of ambiguity — when asked, the response has always been ‘Israel will not be the first country that introduces nuclear weapons to the Middle East.’ Indeed, since the fateful interview, which began making headlines on Monday, [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and a number of other members of his government have been repeating this formulation ad infinitum.” But it has been well known for a while now that Israel has nuclear weapons, a fact Olmert appears to have confirmed in an interview, when he listed Israel among nuclear powers. He said, “Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as America, France, Israel, Russia?”

But “Mordechai Vanunu spent 18 years in prison for revealing secrets about Israel’s nuclear program” and Israel’s previous refusal to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons has spared politicians in Europe and the United States from having to face non-proliferation treaty complications. Olmert just blew all that. Now, of course, Olmert is trying to cover his tracks, and European politicians are feigning outrage. Spiegel seems to think it might be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle, but I bet they manage to do just that.

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