Speaking at an event marking a leadership change in the country’s Atomic Energy Commission, Lapid referred to Israel’s defensive and offensive capabilities, as well as what he called it “other capabilities” – understood as a reference to nuclear weapons.
“The operational arena in the invisible dome above us is built on defensive capabilities and offensive capabilities, as well as what the foreign media tends to call “other capabilities.” These other opportunities keep us alive and will keep us going as long as we and our children are here,” Lapid said.
Israel is widely believed to possess several hundred nuclear warheads, having developed the technology in the 1960s. Unlike most supposed nuclear powers, Israel has never officially claimed possession of it.
Instead, he pursues a policy of “non-transparency” – meaning that Israeli leaders, when pushed, prefer to make only oblique or ambiguous references to nuclear weapons.
The first such statement was made in the early 1960s by then junior defense minister Shimon Peres, who said that Israel “certainly would not be the first to deploy nuclear weapons in the region.”
More recently, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to have acknowledged the nuclear capability when he listed Israel, along with the United States, Russia and France, as having nuclear weapons, though he later attempted to refute comments made on German television. .
Benjamin Netanyahu also once referred to Israel as a “nuclear power” during a presentation in his office before he corrected himself by saying “energy power”.