"A prime minister who is unable to control his statements on sensitive matters of security, must quit," said MK Yuval Steinitz of the Likud opposition.
"The terrible statement made in Germany undermines 50 years of Israel's policy of ambiguity, and joins the irresponsible slips of the tongue such as the announcement regarding the fate of the abducted soldiers in Lebanon."
In an interview with German television station N24 Sat1 broadcast on Monday, December 11, Olmert implicitly acknowledged that Israel has atomic weapons.
"The most that we tried to get for ourselves is to be able to live without terror. But we never threatened any nation with annihilation," he said.
"Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?"
MK Yossi Beilin, Meretz party leader and former justice minister, said that "the fantastic statement of the Prime Minister on the nuclear issue reflects the carelessness ... and raises serious doubts whether this is a person worthy of serving as prime minister."
Israel has long decline to confirm or deny having nuclear bomb as part of a strategic ambiguity policy.
US intelligence agencies routinely omit Israel from semiannual reports to Congress identifying countries developing weapons of mass destruction to protect it from any economic or military sanctions.
But Israel is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with experts saying it has no less than 200 nuclear warheads.
Recently declassified British documents showed London helped Israel obtain its nuclear bomb 40 years ago.
|"I would suggest that all those who want to talk about the issue, for God's sake and for the sake of Israel's security, stop it," said Ben Eliezer|
Olmert's aides, however, said that his remarks were misinterpreted and had not violated Israel's traditional nuclear ambiguity policy.
They stressed that "the prime minister said that Israel will not be the first nation in the region to arm itself with nuclear weapons."
Olmert's spokesman, Miri Eisen, who accompanied him on the Germany trip, said the premier did not mean to say that Israel possessed nuclear weapons.
Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer on Tuesday urged adherence to the nuclear ambiguity policy.
"I would suggest that all those who want to talk about the issue, for God's sake and for the sake of Israel's security, stop it," he told the army radio.
Olmert's comments come a week after new US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates shocked observers when he said that Israel possessed nuclear arms.
He told the Senate armed forces committee that Iran was "surrounded by nuclear powers, with Pakistan to the east, Russia to the North, Israel to the west."
After Gates's comments, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, considered the father of the nuclear program, said Israel would remain mum on nuclear weapons.
Mordechai Vanunu, a one-time technician at the Israeli Dimona nuclear plant, served 18 years in prison for blowing the whistle on Israel's nuclear program.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a US advocacy group co-created by CNN founder Ted Turner, believes Israel's nuclear arsenal "is comparable in quality and quantity to that of France and the United Kingdom."Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16