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China, Iran, Arab nations condemn Israeli minister’s statement about dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza

by Lucas Garcia
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Numerous countries, including China, Iran, and several Arab states, have strongly criticized a statement by Israel’s Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu, who suggested that using a nuclear bomb against Gaza could be a viable option in the conflict with Hamas. This statement, which Eliyahu later described as metaphorical, was made public during a radio interview and subsequently led to his suspension from cabinet meetings by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During the opening session of a United Nations conference aimed at establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, these remarks were universally denounced. China’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Geng Shuang, described the comments as “extremely irresponsible and disturbing,” urging Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state.

Israel’s nuclear capabilities, though never officially confirmed or denied, are widely recognized, particularly following a leak by a former Israeli nuclear reactor employee in 1986.

U.N. disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu, without directly mentioning Israel, highlighted the inadmissibility of nuclear weapons threats. Meanwhile, Oman’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Al-Hassan, representing the Gulf Cooperation Council, emphasized the severity of the threat these remarks posed to Palestinian lives and regional peace.

Lebanon and Iran also voiced their concerns, with Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Amir Iravani stressing the danger of Israel’s secretive nuclear capabilities to regional stability. Israel, while not speaking at the conference, has consistently expressed concerns over a nuclear-armed Iran.

The efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East trace back to the 1960s, with renewed calls in the 1990s and a significant U.N. conference held in 2019. However, Russia’s ambassador to the IAEA, Mikhail Ulyanov, expressed frustration over the lack of progress in fulfilling these long-standing commitments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israeli Minister Controversy

What was the controversial statement made by Israel’s Heritage Minister?

Israel’s Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu suggested using a nuclear bomb against Gaza as a potential option in the conflict with Hamas. He later described his statement as metaphorical.

How did international communities react to the Israeli minister’s statement?

China, Iran, and several Arab nations strongly condemned the statement. It was criticized as irresponsible and disturbing at a United Nations conference aimed at establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

What was the Israeli government’s response to the minister’s comments?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disavowed the comments and suspended the minister from cabinet meetings, distancing the government from the statement.

What is the status of Israel’s nuclear capabilities?

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied possessing nuclear weapons. However, it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal, especially after a former Israeli nuclear reactor employee leaked details in 1986.

What are the international efforts regarding a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East?

Efforts to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East date back to the 1960s, with significant movements in the 1990s and a major U.N. conference in 2019. However, progress has been slow, with recent events reinvigorating discussions.

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