Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unintentionally described Sunday Israel as a “nuclear power” before immediately correcting himself with a bashful nod and an embarrassed smile, as Israel has never acknowledged nor refuted the existence of a nuclear program.
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Netanyahu’s apparent slip of the tongue happened at a weekly cabinet meeting while he was talking about an undersea gas pipeline agreement signed by the Jewish state with Greece and Cyprus, in preparation for the construction of the EastMed, a project designed to start selling Israeli natural gas to Europe by 2025.
“The significance of this project is that we are turning Israel into nuclear power,” the PM said before he quickly rectified himself to say “energy power”. The rare blooper, from one of Israel’s most prominent leaders, rapidly spread on social media.
Although Israel has never acknowledged nor refuted the existence of a nuclear program, the country is broadly believed to be in the possession of atomic arsenal. However, it has always maintained a policy of ambiguity on the issue.
According to Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, there are two nuclear reactors in Israel, the one at the Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, which functions under the caution of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the other one at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre which is not under the supervision of the IAEA.
Following two inconclusive elections in April and September, Netanyahu who was indicted in November on corruption charges is currently fighting for his political future in a vote -the third in less than a year- scheduled for March 2.