Foreign Policy

Olmert Gaffe: Israel's Got Nukes


What everyone knows but no one admits has been, apparently, admitted to by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (as well as our new Defense Secretary Gates):

In an interview with a German television station broadcast Monday, Olmert appeared to list Israel among the world's nuclear powers, violating the country's long-standing policy of not officially acknowledging that it has atomic weapons.

Asked by the interviewer about Iran's calls for the destruction of Israel, Olmert replied that Israel has never threatened to annihilate anyone.

"Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map," Olmert said. "Can you say that this is the same level, when you are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?"

Israel, which foreign experts say has the sixth-largest nuclear arsenal in the world, has stuck to a policy of ambiguity on nuclear weapons for decades, refusing to confirm or deny whether it has them.

The comments came days after incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in testimony to a Senate committee, identified Israel as a nuclear power.

His political opponents are calling for his resignation over this. He insists he was merely trying to characterize Israel as responsible, not necessarily nuclear.

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  1. The troubles this summer in lebanon and Iraq did not really involve ill-considered words. So this is a distinction from Iran. Is it a difference, tho?

  2. I, for one, am a big fan of strong ambiguity. Strength through ambiguity is another of my favorites.

  3. What in the world is Israel hiding its nuclear weapons for? Everyone knows they have them. Unless they are like Iraq, and they don’t.

  4. What do you mean by ambiguity?

  5. Ace & Gary,

    I shall leave that as an exercise to the reader.

  6. Nothing!

    (oh, I thought you asked what I was looking at, friend o friends)

  7. Doesn’t Israel still have one of its citizens sitting in prison for “revealing” that Israel is a member of the Nuclear (or “nookyoolar”, if you’re a faux-Texan) Club?

  8. This is positively mystifying . . . this policy of ambiguity is obvious nonsense, predicated on a position of empty platitudes that ultimately reveal that which was designed to be concealed. This studied ambiguity is more an academic exercise in clever Orwellian allusion and verbal gymnastics of the sort that accompany dishonest government everywhere. Not to mention that its just plain silly.

  9. Jimmycrackcorn,

    I condemn you for suppressing my ambiguous freedom!

  10. “nookyoolar”

    So how come no one makes fun of JFK and John Kerry for saying, “Cubar”?

    Smug mf’ers.

  11. Not to mention that the first guy I heard say “nookyoolar” was Jimmy Carter.

    And he was a “nookyoolar” engineer. 🙂

    (OK, I know he was actually a standard Canoe U. grad with advanced nuke training).

  12. harvard, sadly, i’m old enough to remember comedians making lots of fun at jfk’s pronunciation.

    even funnier was the guy (david frye, maybe?) who did a skit about someone trying to teach lbj how to say “negro.”

  13. Isaac Bartram,

    Some of us call that place a vocational school, along with the one in NY. Usage: Navy won the Vocational Bowl 28 – 10.

    With current information there is some doubt that James Earl Carter III was even using his own words when he said “nookyoolar”. If he got that from Joe Biden then we have a whole can of worms begging to be opened.

  14. “Some of us call that place a vocational school, along with the one in NY. “

    Obviously you didn’t make the cut, Guy.

    Between West Point and Annapolis, I think you could count more distinguished graduates than any other institutions in the country of comparable size.

  15. Oh, you won’t hear me criticize the Boat School, ever.

    My father learned about Naval Gunnery and Steam Propulsion there along with some other skills that stood him and some other young fellows in good stead a few years later when they were called upon to help kick the asses of a trio of nasty dictators.

  16. If Israel has nukes then they ought to start using them. The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.

  17. Paul,

    They had a hit and run blurb about some aspects of it yesterday:

  18. Now I’m not saying Israel has nuclear weapons…..

    However, if Iran messes with us, nuclear energy will become rapidly available in Iran’s urban population centers, if you know what I’m saying.

  19. Also in the “nookyoolar” club are Jay Leno and Walter Cronkite. I’ve worked with about 15 nuclear scientists (including a class where it was rotating roster of nuclear scientists teaching the course.) At least seven of the 15 nuclear scientists said “nookyoolar”…and it wasn’t a joke. I don’t know why that word is so difficult for some…including people who have to work with it every day of their lives.

  20. Are there molecular biologists that say “nookyoolis”?

  21. “At least seven of the 15 nuclear scientists said “nookyoolar”…and it wasn’t a joke. I don’t know why that word is so difficult for some…including people who have to work with it every day of their lives.”

    It’s called American Regional Dialect and only a self-important idiot makes fun of another’s regional dialect.

  22. “Nookyoolar” is to “nuclear” as “aluminum” is to “aluminium”.

  23. “only a self-important idiot makes fun of another’s regional dialect.”

    Well, there goes 78.2% =/- 2.12% of all humour. [Note funny Canadian spelling of ‘humor’.]

  24. I have heard that the first President to mispronounce “nuclear” was DDE. I have also heard that most Presidents since have followed his lead. It is believed to somehow make them seem more “of the people.”
    I have no idea how to substantiate any of that.

  25. Russ R,

    Ahem, I went to ‘real college’ thank you and it was accredited when I went (as opposed to any of the vocational schools). Not a matter of “making the cut” as I had no desire to go there (or any of those vine schools either).

    That said, I only met one total asshole from the NY vocational school, none from the MD vocational school nor any from the CO vocational school, vs. plenty from ‘real colleges’.

  26. ‘Wipe em off the map’? Why was apartheid bad in Africa but not in Palestine? Viva Gibson!

  27. Why was apartheid bad in Africa but not in Palestine?

    agreed. the palestinians really ought to allow jews to live there peacefully and stop driving out the christians. their rabid apartheid racist beliefs are the key impediment toward political autonomy.

  28. Actually Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and in peace (in there own enclaves) for several centuries. Of course, the Ottoman Empire had something of a hand in that.

    It wasn’t until Zionists started talking about establishing their homeland there that anyone started making trouble.

  29. I just got back from a conference (I’ll tell you about it some other time), and I have serious doubts that this “Olmert” really said that. I also doubt the “existence” of the country “Israel.” Jews? Give me a break. They never even existed. They are just a creation of the Anglos.

  30. Isaac Bartram,

    Exactly. I say give the whole region back to the Turks. Or the Romans. Or the Greeks. Or the Persians (only the Zorastrian variety, mind you). Someone other than the indigenous populations, in any event.

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