Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu in apparent stumble, calls Israel a 'nuclear power'

Reuters Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, Israel Jan 05, 2020, 05.35 PM(IST)

Benjamin Netanyahu Photograph:( Reuters )

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Israel is widely believed to have an atomic arsenal but has never confirmed or denied that it has nuclear weapons, maintaining a so-called policy of ambiguity on the issue for decades.

In an apparent slip of the tongue on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Israel as a nuclear power before correcting himself with a bashful nod and an embarrassed smile.

Israel is widely believed to have an atomic arsenal but has never confirmed or denied that it has nuclear weapons, maintaining a so-called policy of ambiguity on the issue for decades.

Netanyahu stumbled at the weekly cabinet meeting while reading in Hebrew prepared remarks on a deal with Greece and Cyprus on a subsea gas pipeline.

"The significance of this project is that we are turning Israel into nuclear power," he said, before quickly correcting himself to say "energy power".

He then paused for a beat, acknowledging his mistake with a smile, and then ploughed on with his comments.

The rare blooper from one of Israel's most polished politicians swiftly proliferated on social media.

Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival in a March 2 vote after two inconclusive elections in April and September. In November, he was indicted on corruption charges, which he denies.