Israel possesses a whole arsenal of nuclear weapons – 150 nuclear warheads, according to former US President Jimmy Carter. The politician did not name the source of his information and whether the information has been obtained from US intelligence.
Israel continues to vehemently deny its possession of nuclear weapons since the scandal in 1986, when an employee of the secret nuclear center in Dimon, Mordechai Vanunu, revealed sensational details about Israel-led top secret developments of weapons of mass destruction. Vanunu, who had already left Israel by that time, said that Israel had made 200 nuclear warheads.
Vanunu was subsequently kidnapped by Mossad agents in Rome and sentenced to 18 years in prison for exposing state secrets.
In December of 2006, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during his visit to Germany that Iran was following Israel’s example in its nuclear research. Olmert said the following: "Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map . "Can you say that this is the same level, when they [Iran] are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?" he said.
Olmert’s remarks triggered an uproar in Israeli opposition, which criticized the prime minister for his carelessness and blatant irresponsibility. Olmert nearly lost his position because of that statement. His words gave Arab world an opportunity to ask the international community in the face of the USA and the UN to punish Israel for illegal possession of nuclear weapons.
Only silence followed that requirement. The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf accused the USA of double standards.
It is not ruled out that Jimmy Carter’s statement will add fuel to the fire again because Israel is not a member of the Non-proliferation Treaty. Israel neither confirms nor denies its possession of nuclear weapons.
It was unclear from the newspaper's account whether Carter was citing those estimates, offering his own independent assessment or drawing on U.S. intelligence he would have had access to as president, the AP reports.
U.S. officials have generally avoided the issue of Israel's nuclear status, although during a 2006 Senate confirmation hearing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed that Israel was a nuclear power.
The Times said Carter made the comment Sunday while at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival on the border between England and Wales. He was discussing Iran, and the difficulty it would have in building a secret nuclear arsenal, when he mentioned the Israeli weapons, the paper said.