SALEM (Reuters) - Israel must have tremendously powerful weapons to deter a nuclear attack or destroy an enemy that dares to launch an atomic strike, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted on Thursday as saying.
National security adviser Uzi Arad, in comments to Haaretz newspaper, appeared to allude to what is widely believed to be Israels own nuclear arsenal and a standing policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD). He warned other countries they could bring about their own devastation if they launched an attack.
Israel has never confirmed it has atomic arms. In excerpts on Haaretzs English-language website of an interview to be published on Friday, Arad said he feared that if Iran became a nuclear power, five or six other states in the Middle East would follow suit. He called such a prospect a nightmare for Israel.
The defensive might we have must be improved and become tremendously powerful, and create a situation in which no one will dare to realise the ability to harm us, Arad said.
And if they do dare, we will exact a full price, so that they too will not survive.
Israel has three German-made submarines that are widely assumed to carry nuclear missiles.
One of the submarines sailed from the Mediterranean, via the Suez Canal, to Israels Red Sea port of Eilat last week, in what officials called a signal to Iran of the long reach of its arsenal.
Israel and its Western allies fear that Iran is enriching uranium with the aim of producing nuclear weapons. Iran says it is pursuing only a nuclear power generation programme.
In a 2006 Reuters interview, then-vice premier Shimon Peres, currently Israels president, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, should bear in mind his country also could be destroyed.
They want to wipe out Israel ... Now when it comes to destruction, Iran too can be destroyed (but) I dont suggest to say an eye for an eye, Peres said.
While, Palestinians have no leadership, a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted on Thursday as saying in remarks indicating deep scepticism about prospects for peace.
Netanyahu has said publicly he would be prepared to meet immediately with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction holds sway only in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
But in an excerpt of an interview in the Haaretz newspaper, Netanyahus national security adviser, Uzi Arad, appeared to question whether Israels right-leaning government has a Palestinian negotiating partner who can deliver peace.
I ... do not see a Palestinian leadership or a Palestinian regime, but a disorderly constellation of forces and factions, Arad, widely regarded as one of Netanyahus most hawkish advisers, was quoted as saying.
The full interview was due to be published on Friday.
Netanyahu has balked at resuming peace talks focusing on issues, such as borders and the future of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, crucial to attaining the US goal of creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Instead, he has proposed negotiating with Abbas along economic, political and security tracks and limiting the powers of sovereignty of any future Palestinian state, calling for international guarantees to ensure it is demilitarised.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Abbas, described Arads remarks as yet another Israeli hurdle in the pursuit of peace.
Abbas has said peace talks with Israel could resume only if it met its commitments under a 2003 peace road map to halt settlement activity. Under the plan, Palestinians are obliged to rein in militants.
US President Barak Obama has demanded a settlement freeze. Netanyahu opposes a complete halt to construction in settlements.
Obamas Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is to return to the region soon for talks with Netanyahu on ending the rare rift between Israel and the United Stated States, its main ally.