debkafile: Olmert breaks Israel’s nuclear silence in response to US defense secretary’s nuclear stance and Iran’s Holocaust denial conference
The Israeli prime minister made his surprising disclosure Monday, Dec. 11: “Israel doesn’t threaten any country,” he said. “Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you see this on the same level when you are aspiring to have a nuclear weapon like the US, France, Israel and Russia?” the Israeli PM asked in an interview with the German TV station N24 Sat1.
This was the first Israeli official admission of the possession of nuclear weapons.
debkafile‘s military sources report that Olmert decided on this step in response to US defense secretary Robert Gates’ listing of Israel as among the nuclear states surrounding Iran to explain Tehran’s search for a nuclear deterrent of its own. He was the first American official to confirm Israel had a nuclear weapon and did so without consulting Jerusalem.
Olmert chose his journey to Germany, which coincided with the opening in Tehran of a conference negating the Holocaust, for his shock disclosure. This conference is taken in Israel as a vehicle for attacking Zionist legitimacy and so justifying Iran’s ambition to destroy the Jewish state. Olmert used the opportunity to remind Iran’s rulers that Israel possesses a large stock of nuclear weapons capable of not only smashing Iran’s nuclear facilities but also disabling its infrastructure.
Olmert went on to note that the US, Russia, France and Great Britain possess nuclear weapons. But,” he said. “there is no equating them with a country like Iran. You are talking about civilized countries that do not threaten… other countries with the use of nuclear weapons to destroy them.”
According to our sources, the prime minister did not confer with any minister, military adviser or secret service head before delivering his dramatic revelation.
On December 10, debkafile‘s military sources offered the view that Israel cannot afford to leave answered Robert Gates’ assertion last Tuesday that no one can guarantee Iran will not use a nuclear bomb to attack Israel. Our analysts urged the Olmert government to counter Iran’s constant threats by embracing a bold, proactive nuclear posture in place of the long-held passive ambiguity.
Olmert’s disclosure indeed raised the profile of the Israel-Iran duel.
debkafile‘s Tehran sources report that high Iranian officials conferred urgently Monday night, Dec. 11, with supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in search of a quick rejoinder to Olmert’s surprise move. They must take into account the effect of their response on their relations with the United States; a naked military threat against Israel could nip in the bud the chance of a US-Iran engagement on Iraq such as the Baker-Hamilton panel has recommended.
The prime minister’s few aides in the know took this into consideration. He has also been at pains to soft-pedal intelligence of Syrian plans for a summer 2007 war so as not to upset Egyptian and Saudi efforts to detach Damascus from its close collaboration with Tehran.