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Former Knesset chairman recognises Israel's nuclear arsenal, calls for honest discussion

February 10, 2014 at 10:59 am

Israel’s former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg openly recognised that Israel possesses nuclear weapons during a conference in Haifa on Thursday that convened to discuss a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. According to Israel’s Maariv newspaper, Burg did not attribute the claims to foreign sources like Israeli officials usually do to cast ambiguity on its nuclear capabilities.

Burg said that: “the nuclear treasure has transformed these days into a political burden and a risk in the long run. Israel adopts a policy of ambiguity, which has become obsolete and is a childish way to prevent other countries from obtaining nuclear weapons. The new realities in the region require for states to choose whether everyone can possess nuclear weapons or to have a zone free of nuclear weapons.”

Burg urged Knesset members to raise awareness about the nuclear weapons issue among the wider Israeli public. Burg, who also served as chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, suggested that: “the region’s countries, including Iran, must all engage in a comprehensive dialogue, because you cannot free the region of these weapons without dialogue. I believe that dialogue represents an alternative to a nuclear weapon and can protect us from this risk.”

After the conference, Burg told Maariv newspaper that: “it’s time to get out of the nuclear coffin and to demystify the ambiguity about Israel’s nuclear programme. Either everyone is going to have this weapon or no one will.”

Akiba Tadatoshi, who served as the mayor of Hiroshima between 1999 until 2011, also attended the conference and urged Israel to support a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East.

Israeli political scientist and Knesset Member Dov Hanin called to disarm Israel’s nuclear weapons, pointing to the Syrian chemical weapons agreement as a model because it proves that it is possible to disarm a country of weapons of mass destruction through international diplomacy.