Opposition party head appears to urge nuclear action to stop Iran’s atomic program

Ex-defense minister Liberman calls on government to use ‘all tools’ at its disposal to counter the threat posed by Tehran, stressing this can’t be done by ‘conventional means’

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman leads a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 27, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A prominent opposition lawmaker called on the government Wednesday to use “all the tools” at its disposal to confront the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, seemingly suggesting that Israel should use a nuclear weapon against the Islamic Republic.

Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman, a former defense minister, wrote on X that “in this confrontation between Israel and the axis of evil, we must win — and without defeating Iran and destroying its nuclear program, we cannot beat either Hezbollah or Hamas.

“In order to stop the Iranian nuclear program, which is already at weaponization stages, we must use all the tools at our disposal,” he continued. “It must be clear that, at this stage, it is impossible to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons via conventional means.”

Liberman was thus implying that Israel should use unconventional methods to stop the Iranian nuclear program, the most notable of which are atomic bombs. Having served in a variety of high-level ministerial positions throughout his career, including as defense minister, Liberman would be privy to Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

Israel has held a longstanding policy of nuclear ambiguity, in which the country neither denies nor confirms whether it possesses nuclear weapons. For decades, Israel has said that it will not be “the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.”

According to foreign reports, Israel has about 90 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

This February 22, 2021, satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc. shows construction at the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

Liberman appeared to be joining calls for Jerusalem to use an atomic bomb on Iran to stop its nuclear proliferation, including an op-ed in Haaretz this week by Israeli historian Benny Morris that advocated such a step.

In November, Far-right Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu didn’t rule out using nuclear weapons on the Gaza Strip, saying in a radio interview that one of Israel’s options in the war against Hamas could be to drop a nuclear bomb on the territory, in comments that were quickly disavowed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Similar comments were made by Likud lawmaker Tally Gotliv a few days after Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, which saw terrorists kill some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap 251.

Senior Israeli officials reportedly considered using a nuclear weapon 50 years earlier in the wake of the surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces that sparked the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Iran claims that its nuclear program is intended only for civilian purposes, but the Islamic Republic, whose leadership regularly calls for the annihilation of Israel, reportedly has enough uranium enriched at 60 percent — a level that has no civilian use — to allow for the assembly of three nuclear warheads. Reports in recent days have indicated its leadership is considering whether to break out to the bomb.

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