Cabinet ministers approved Sunday emergency measures to end a “disruptive” months-long strike over pay by scientists working at the country’s top secret nuclear research center.
Scientists at the Dimona Nuclear Research Center have been on a slowdown strike for the past three months, after their demand for a wage increase was refused.
Israel is believed by foreign governments and media to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear power, but has long refused to confirm or deny that it has such weapons, and the Dimona plant officially focuses on research and energy provision.
“The government unanimously approved the request of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission head to implement emergency regulations that would enable the issuing of back-to-work orders to employees of the Nuclear Research Center,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The slowdown was “disrupting activities essential to Israel,” and the decision to issue the orders came in the wake of “an immediate risk” to production at the facility, the statement said.
It said back-to-work orders would be issued for up to 50 scientists, who must return to full duties within three months.
An attorney for the scientists said the government’s explanation for issuing the back-to-work orders was baseless, and that the orders would be challenged in court.
The US-based Institute for Science and International Security estimated in 2015 that Israel had 115 nuclear warheads.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.