Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Olmert Accidentally Tells The Truth

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accidentally told the truth about something Israeli politicians and others have been lying about for decades, and the fallout from his "slip of the tongue" is gathering a bit of momentum.

From the Jerusalem Post: Loose lips and nuclear warships
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Berlin Tuesday - at least in the eyes of the Israeli press - was overshadowed by one sentence he said in a German television interview on Monday regarding Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities.

"Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, can you say this is the same level when you are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as America, France, Israel, Russia?" the prime minister told German television network SAT 1, setting off a storm of protest in Israel.
Some of the reasons for that "storm of protest" are enumerated in another Jerusalem Post article: 'Olmert's comments may prove harmful'
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's apparent inclusion of Israel in the nuclear club and confirmation that the country has nuclear weapons could prove disastrous to Israel's strategic standing, senior defense officials said Tuesday.

According to the officials - responsible for planning Israel's long-term defense strategy - Olmert's comment could eventually lead to renewed pressure to open up the country's nuclear installations to international inspections. Egypt has repeatedly called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of the Dimona nuclear facility as well as Israel's signature on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Olmert's comment was even more surprising considering that in recent weeks he held two four-hour long meetings with former minister Dan Meridor - author of Israel's newly-formulated defense doctrine - during which he was briefed on the main principles, which include maintaining Israel's long-standing policy of nuclear ambiguity.
Of course, by "nuclear ambiguity", the author, Yaakov Kaatz, means that Israel has never officially acknowledged that it has nuclear weapons.

Further details from the same article:
A high-level adviser to Olmert on defense and diplomatic issues told the Post recently that Israel needed to maintain nuclear ambiguity "at all costs."

"This policy scares our adversaries," the high-ranking official said. "Even if they think they know, they don't really know and that scares them."

According to the official, Israel's policy has paid off by preventing IAEA inspection of its nuclear sites. The policy has also allowed the United States to rebuff calls - like those from the Egyptians - for international inspections of Israel's facilities. In addition, the policy has so far warded off attempts by other Middle Eastern countries - except for Iran - to begin developing their own nuclear programs using the excuse that Israel has a nuclear capability.
I love the use of the word "excuse" in this context ... in an ironic way, of course. Why "excuse"? Why not "reason"? Because a "reason" seems to imply a valid motivation, whereas "excuse" implies an ulterior motive, or otherwise implies that the action in question is somehow less "ok".

I've never understood why it's ok for Israel to have nuclear weapons but it's not ok for Israel's neighbors to have any weapons at all. But then, maybe I'm just a little bit thick.

Aljazeera English has some more interesting commentary on this ...
The Israeli prime minister spent Tuesday trying to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle after an apparent slip-of-the-tongue.
Israeli official spokespersons also denied that his remark was an admission.
Olmert said in the interview that was shown on Israeli television: "The most that we tried to get for ourselves is to be able to live without terror."
Ha ha ha! He's a regular comedian, this guy.
Speaking in Germany on Tuesday, Olmert denied he had "outed" Israel's nuclear programme.

"Israel has said many times, and I also said this to German television in an interview, that we will not be the first country that introduces nuclear weapons to the Middle East," he said after meeting Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
That's a good one, too! Olmert is such a good liar, it's no wonder all of Israel gets its knickers in a knot when he accidentally tells the truth.