Arab MK Quotes US Source on Israel's Nuclear Program, Claims WMD in 3 Locations

Yedi'ot Aharonot (Tel Aviv)
03 Jul 03 p 11

[Report by Hayim Shibi: "Nuclear Weapons in Haifa, Galilee, and Bet Shemesh"]

[FBIS Translated Text] Warehousing for nuclear weapons and Israel's nuclear capabilities were two sensitive issues that were raised yesterday during an open Knesset debate, following a BBC broadcast last week.

The debate followed a question submitted by MK Isam Makhul (HADASH) which quoted facts about Israel's nuclear program taken from a US Internet site that covers defense issues. "The Federation of American Scientists site notes that Israel has nuclear weapons stored in the Haifa Bay area, on Mount Elabon in the Galilee, and in Kefar Zekharya near Bet Shemesh. Are these facts correct?" Makhul asked from the podium.

In response, Gid'on Sa'ar, the Likud minister responsible for liaising between the government and the Knesset, said: "Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Israel supports nonproliferation in principle, but the nonproliferation treaty is inappropriate for this region, as has been proven previously in Iraq and now in Iran."

Some MKs interpreted Makhul's meddling in Israel's nuclear secrets as problematic. Israel has never confirmed or denied that it has nuclear weapons and follows a policy of "nuclear ambiguity," despite the fact that foreign sources have been claiming for years that it has weapons of mass destruction [WMD].

"Ostensibly, this harms state security, but if Makhul is quoting a public source he cannot be accused of any crime. Makhul never lets up in his attempts to portray Israel as an aggressor," said National Union MK Arye Eldad.

"What Makhul did is very serious, but there is no proof that his information is accurate and it cannot be validated. The less notice we take of what he had to say, the better it will be for national security," said the Likud's Ehud Yatom. Yatom added: "I do not believe there is any point in discussing our nuclear policies. In this case, Israel's deterrent capabilities rely on ambiguity."