WASHINGTON (Feb. 25)
Israeli officials are dismissing but not explicitly denying the accuracy of a Russian intelligence report that asserts the Jewish state could have stockpiled between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons since 1970.
An English translation of the report was made public this week by U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, which he chairs.
The Israeli Embassy responded to the report by issuing the same statement it always does when asked about the country’s nuclear capability: that “Israel will not be the first (country) to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.”
Similar reports about Israel’s possible nuclear stockpile “have been cropping up for many years now,” said Michael Shiloh, deputy chief of mission at the embassy. “Israel has never related to such reports.”
“I don’t know” if the senator “thinks he detected anything new,” Shiloh said. “I don’t see anything new.”
A spokesman for Glenn agreed that there have always been rumors relating to Israel’s nuclear stockpile.
“We’re not endorsing” the Russian findings, the spokesman said. “We’re showing what the Russian intelligence service has done.”
Glenn released the English translation Wednesday at a hearing where James Woolsey, the CIA director, was testifying.
The report, compiled by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and titled “A New Challenge After the Cold War — The Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” surveyed the global threat of nuclear proliferation and provided information on the nuclear stockpiles of specific countries.
A news release issued by Glenn’s office focused more on the historic nature of the Russian report and did not even mention the Israeli angle.
The report, Glenn said in the release, “represents not only a historic look into Russia’s research on the proliferation threat, but a further thawing of the Cold War mentality that is in the best interest of global stability.”
“It is a broad overview of the entire field of nuclear proliferation,” the Glenn spokesman said.
The translation includes information on Israel’s alleged nuclear and chemical weapons stores.
“Israel is a country which unofficially possesses nuclear weapons coupled with missile delivery systems,” the report says.
“Israel’s leadership itself does not confirm but does not repudiate information on the presence of nuclear weapons on the country’s territory.”