In a recent statement, Russia’s foreign ministry expressed significant concerns regarding a remark made by an Israeli junior minister that seemed to suggest the possibility of Israel carrying out a nuclear strike on Gaza. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, stated that this statement has raised a multitude of questions and brought the issue of Israel’s nuclear weapons into the spotlight. Israel has not publicly acknowledged its possession of nuclear weapons, although the Federation of American Scientists estimates that Israel may have around 90 nuclear warheads.
The controversy arose when Heritage Minister Amihay Eliyahu, who belongs to a far-right party within the coalition government, was asked about a hypothetical nuclear option during a radio interview. His response, “That’s one way,” led to his suspension from cabinet meetings by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the suspension lasting indefinitely.
Maria Zakharova emphasized the main issue at hand, which is Israel’s apparent admission, albeit indirectly, of having nuclear weapons. This acknowledgement raises questions about the official stance on the presence of such weapons. Zakharova also pointed out the absence of the International Atomic Energy Agency and international nuclear inspectors in this matter, highlighting the need for their involvement to ensure transparency and compliance with international regulations.
Eliyahu’s statement received condemnation from various countries in the Arab world, caused a scandal within mainstream Israeli media, was considered “objectionable” by a U.S. official, and prompted Iran to call for a swift international response. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian urged the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency to take immediate and uninterrupted action to disarm what he referred to as a “barbaric and apartheid regime.”
This situation has led to increased international scrutiny and calls for transparency regarding Israel’s nuclear capabilities, posing a significant diplomatic challenge for the Israeli government. Russia’s concerns over the Israeli minister’s nuclear remark have sparked questions about Israel’s nuclear weapons program and prompted international calls for transparency and disarmament.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The Hindustan Times