Israel will not pursue civil nuclear energy in the coming years, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday – adding that the Japanese crisis has “caused
me to reconsider the projects of building civil nuclear
Netanyahu’s comments were made during an interview with CNN’s
Piers Morgan, aired Thursday night in the US.
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Regarding the nuclear
crisis in Japan, Netanyahu said he had been “a lot more enthusiastic” about
civilian nuclear energy in the past than he was now.
“In fact, you’d have
to give me a very good argument to do it,” Netanyahu said of building civilian
nuclear plants. “And fortunately we found natural gas.”
that unless solutions were found to challenges posed by the situation in Japan,
“I think that leaders should reconsider the expansion of civilian nuclear
Prior to Netanyahu’s comments, the National Infrastructures
Ministry said there was no formal plan to build a nuclear power plant in
“There’s a general idea to build one maybe 10, 15 years down the
line in the Shifta Region [of the Negev],” a spokesman for the National
Infrastructures Ministry said.
The Israel Electric Corporation referred
all queries to the ministry “since they decide whether or not power plants are
In general, building a nuclear power plant in Israel is not a
matter of mere construction, or even establishing the requisite
Civilian nuclear power plants must be supervised by the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Countries building civilian
plants must also sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a pledge
that they will not distribute nuclear weapons. In return, they are “given” the
right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes, including generating
electricity or medical research.
Israel is not a signatory to the NPT,
and has maintained a posture of ambiguity regarding its possession of nuclear
weapons – neither confirming nor denying – for decades.
Peres, who was reportedly heavily involved in the acquisition of the requisite
technology in the 1950s, has continually stated that “Israel would not be the
first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East.”
As such – and in
the face of fears that Tehran may be attempting to build an atomic bomb – it is
highly unlikely Israel will agree to open its doors to IAEA inspectors and allow
them to roam freely around the country.
Still, the two research reactors
at Dimona and Sorek are currently under IAEA supervision.
Some who have
talked about the idea of nuclear power for Israel cite India as a precedent,
saying that the country – also not a signatory to the NPT – was allowed to have
both nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, and therefore so can
However, providing electricity for India’s over one billion
people is not the same as providing it for Israel’s just over seven million
Indeed, the chances of India’s nuclear precedent being applied
to Israel are practically nil, an international expert has told The Jerusalem
Post in the past.