Robert Gates defended Israel’s nuclear program.
The U.S. defense secretary, asked during a Bahrain conference Saturday whether he believes that Israel’s nuclear program threatens Middle East stability, answered, “No, I do not.
“Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into a place like Iraq to kill thousands of innocent civilians covertly,” Gates said, alluding to Iranian actions. “It has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors. It is not trying to destabilize the government of Lebanon.”
But Gates allowed that his mainly Arab audience might not agree.
“I understand there is a difference of view on that,” he said.
Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal. During his U.S. Senate confirmation hearings a year ago, Gates named Israel among nuclear-armed countries in the world, raising speculation that he might press Jerusalem to go public with its capabilities. But he has not revisited the subject.