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Peres: Israel Adheres to Policy of Not Introducing Nuclear Weapons into the Middle East

Premier Shimon Peres declared at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that Israel adheres to its long-standing policy on nuclear weapons: “We will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area.” The Foreign Ministry issued an identical statement.

Peres spoke in response to a story in the Sunday Times of London that Israel has produced up to 200 unclear weapons at a secret underground plant in the Negev. Peres told the Cabinet that Israel has frequently been faced with sensational reports in the world media relating to the nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev. There were no comments from any of the Ministers and no further discussion of the matter.

According to the Sunday Times’ report, which was headlined around the world, Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal was disclosed by Mordechai Vanunu, a 31-year-old nuclear technician who worked at Dimona for 10 years before he was laid off with 180 Dimona workers last November. Vanunu presently lives in Australia.

If the Times’ report were true, Israel would rank sixth among the world’s nuclear powers. (See reaction from Washington, P.3.)