Nuclear Slip Of The Tongue

After years of official silence on the issue, Israel’s Prime Minister managed to let the nuclear cat out of the bag last night on SAT 1, a German television station. According to Spiegel Online (international version),

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert got himself into trouble by implying for the first time that Israel has nuclear weapons. His indirect admission has overshadowed his visit to Germany and Italy during which he is expected to urge a tougher European response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In an interview with the private SAT1 television network broadcast on Monday, Olmert contrasted Iran’s policy with that of “civilised countries” that possessed nuclear weapons.

Asked if Israel’s alleged nuclear capability weakened the case against Iran’s nuclear program, Olmert 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?” [my emphasis]

Oops.

This has been an open secret for over twenty years. Now the opposition in Israel is making a stink and demanding Olmert’s resignation. Thus the ‘secret’ is out. One opposition member commented “His unfortunate statement in Germany damages 50 years of Israel’s policy of ambiguity.” A statement that does not exactly sound like a non denial-denial.

Of course one wonders if this was a slip or a shot across the Iran’s bow – planned not fumbled. Why? Iran just started the ‘Holocaust’ conference announced this summer. Again from the international version of Spiegel Online.

A two-day “Holocaust conference” kicked off in Tehran on Monday. The government-sponsored event “Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision” attracted 67 speakers from 30 countries, including some who have been prosecuted in Europe for casting doubt on the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis.

The conference was inspired by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has already sparked international condemnation for his comments that the Holocaust was a “myth” and that Israel should be “wiped from the map.”

The Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki opened the event saying that the “aim of the conference is not to deny or confirm the Holocuast,” but “to create an opportunity for thinkers who cannot express their views freely in Europe about the Holocaust.” These “thinkers” include the French writer Georges Thiel — a convicted Holocaust denier — five anti-Zionist rabbis, and David Duke — a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

I have to wonder if these two events aren’t related. If Israel is letting the world know, in ‘uncertain’ terms that the nukes are there. Despite the denials, it isn’t news to those who follow these things, that Israel has nukes. Indeed Mordechai Vanunu, the former nuclear technician, spent 18 years in prison for revealing the details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the press in 1986. He was finally released in April 2004 but has had many restrictions on where he can live and who he can contact. This has led to clashes with authorities and he has since been re-imprisoned.

Since this information is so sensitive, it is interesting that this Israeli Prime Minister would make this mistake – this week – on German television. The coincidences are almost too much to believe.

Does this have to be a plan and not a stupid mistake. No. People and politicians make mistakes all the time. One only has to harken back to Bush’s “Let Israel kick Hezbollah’s ass’ comment. But this is an interesting slip of the tongue.

One that has nuclear consequences.

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