WASHINGTON (Jul. 31)
The State Department today referred reporters to a statement by Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin last year denying that Israel possessed nuclear weapons. The statement by Rabin in a Danish television interview broadcast December 17, was cited by Department spokesman Robert Funseth when reporters asked him to comment on an article in the Boston Globe that said senior American analysts believe Israel has assembled ten nuclear weapons, each as powerful as the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
The Globe article was written by William Beecher, the paper’s Washington correspondent who was, until recently, a spokesman for the Defense Department. Funseth said that “the United States strongly believes that every nation should strictly adhere to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” a treaty Israel has not signed. Asked if that comment included Israel, he said “that is very clearly implied.”
But Funseth also intimated that the U.S. accepted Rabin’s statement that “Israel is not a nuclear power…which means Israel has no nuclear weapons.” Funseth noted that Rabin stressed in the interview the Israeli government’s policy that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East conflict.
In an unrelated development here, the office of Rep. Thomas O’Neill (D.Mass.), the House Majority Leader, reported that it expects that a House vote will be held tomorrow on the resolution urging the U.S. to consider withdrawing from the United Nations General Assembly if Israel is expelled from that body.