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Dayan Says Israel Does Not Have A-bomb but Can Build One Quickly

Moshe Dayan became today the highest ranking political figure in Israel to assert that Israel does not have atomic bombs. Speculation that Israel does have such atomic weapons have been circulating for years.

But the former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister said Israel does have the capability to assemble such weapons quickly and that Israel would do so if its enemies introduced atomic weapons into the region. Israeli officials have repeatedly and consistently declared that Israel would not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.

Dayan made his comments in an interview with Italian State Television, excerpts of which were released before the telecasting of the interview and were reported by the news agencies from Rome.

Dayan was quoted as saying: “We are able to produce nuclear weapons and if we see an Arab country introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East, we will not arrive too late with our own.”

Dayan also said Israel had never thought of resorting to nuclear weapons in past wars with the Arabs, thus implicitly rejecting a rumor that he and then Premier Golda Meir had considered that option during the early days of the Yom Kippur war, when Israel was suddenly attacked on two fronts in a joint assault by Egypt and Syria.

Dayan added that matters involved “change completely when one speaks of leaders like (Muammar) Qaddafi, (Libya’s leader) or the leader of Iraq” (Saddam Hussein) “whose behavior no one can foresee should they acquire nuclear arms.”

Observers have said that reports on the Dayan interview had little public impact here.

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