Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid made a rare allusion to the country’s widely suspected nuclear arsenal during a speech on Monday.
Speaking at an event marking a change of leadership at the country’s Atomic Energy Commission, Lapid referred to Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities, as well as what he termed its “other capabilities” — understood as referring to nuclear weapons.
“The operational arena in the invisible dome above us is built on defensive capabilities and offensive capabilities, and what the foreign media call ‘other capabilities’. These other possibilities keep us alive and will keep us alive as long as we and our children are here,” Lapid said.
It is widely believed that Israel possesses several hundred nuclear weapons and developed the technology in the 1960s. Unlike most supposed nuclear-weapon states, Israel has never officially declared possession.
Instead, it pursues a policy of “opacity” — meaning that Israeli leaders, when pressed, have preferred to refer only obliquely or ambiguously to nuclear weapons.
The first such statement was made in the early 1960s by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Shimon Peres, who said Israel “certainly would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region.”
More recently, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to recognize nuclear capability when he listed Israel, along with the United States, Russia and France, as nuclear weapons, though he later tried to refute the comments made on German television.
Also, Benjamin Netanyahu once referred to Israel as a “nuclear power” during a presentation to his cabinet, before correcting himself to say “energy power”.