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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 11:43 GMT
Debate on Olmert nuclear 'slip'
Mid East Press

The press in the Middle East has had time to reflect on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's apparent acknowledgement on Monday that Israel possesses a nuclear weapons capability.

Some Arab commentators make much of the statement, arguing that Israel is undermining both regional stability and the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Others are not surprised by it.

Although Israeli commentators consider it as confirmation of what has long been known, some suggest the revelation has compromised Mr Olmert's role as prime minister.

TALAL SULAYMAN IN LEBANON'S AL-SAFIR

Nuclear race - Olmert's slip contributes indirectly to the region's arms race, which is no longer very far away.

YEMEN'S AL-THAWRAH

Ehud Olmert's admission is conclusive evidence of the extent of Israeli recalcitrance and arrogance. Israel dealt a painful blow to the International Atomic Energy Agency which is concerned with nuclear non-proliferation.

PAN ARAB AL-QUDS AL-ARABI

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's confession that his country possesses nuclear weapons is not a slip of the tongue. It is only an affirmation of a well known secret. The question is not whether Israel possesses nuclear weapons, but the reasons that pushed Olmert to make this dangerous confession at this time.

SAUDI ARABIA'S AL-JAZIRAH

This admission will change nothing. The furore that followed Olmert's remarks comes in the context of internal Israeli conflicts rather than in the uncovering of a hidden nuclear secret.

IBRAHIM SADAH IN EGYPT'S AL-AKHBAR

Olmert's implicit admission that Israel possesses nuclear weapons only proves what the new US secretary of defence had stated openly in the House of Representatives.

ANSHEL PFEFFER IN ISRAEL'S JERUSALEM POST

The inescapable fact is that nuclear ambiguity isn't what it used to be. Nowadays, any kid with a computer can easily find on foreign websites the entire rundown on Israel's nuclear arsenal... Nuclear ambiguity was a comfortable arrangement for both Israeli and US administrations, designed to allow Israel to get on with whatever it was doing down there in the Negev without too much international pressure and the US to not seem too hypocritical by not demanding its Middle East ally sign the NPT treaty.

RONEN BERGMAN IN ISRAEL'S YEDIOT AHARONOT

Two seeming slips of the tongue have taken place in the last week that put a big question mark over the regime of [Israel's nuclear] ambiguity. First, US Defence Secretary designate Robert Gates said that Israel has nuclear weapons. [Then] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also referred to the subject. The question arises whether Olmert's declaration indeed ends the ambiguity. The answer, so it seems, is negative. As long as the US is not demanding that Israel agree to international supervision as it does of other countries like Iran and North Korea... the ambiguity will remain.

AMIR OREN IN ISRAEL'S LEFTIST HAARETZ

Ehud Olmert did the Israeli media a great service. Thanks to him, there is no longer any need to rely on real or bogus 'foreign sources' when referring to Israel's nuclear potential... Not that anyone in the world suspected until yesterday that Israel did not have nuclear potential. Now it is clear that Israel has nuclear weapons, but no prime minister.

HAGAY HUBERMAN IN RELIGIOUS PARTY DAILY HATZOFE

Ehud Olmert revealed no secret the whole world did not already know. The seriousness in Olmert's case is not the name of the man making the statement but his position - prime minister. An official admission by the prime minister of Israel's nuclear capability. Olmert's statement was just a slip of the tongue. The problem is that one small word by a prime minister can sometimes cause more damage than one kiloton of atom.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




SEE ALSO
Israeli PM in nuclear arms hint
12 Dec 06 |  Middle East
Sharon sticks to nuclear policy
06 Jul 04 |  Middle East
'Hope' for nuclear-free Mid-East
08 Jul 04 |  Middle East
UN asks Israel to go nuclear-free
27 Jun 04 |  Middle East
Israel's nuclear programme
22 Dec 03 |  Middle East

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