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Russia says Israeli nuclear remark raises ‘huge number of questions’

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Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday (7 November) that a remark by an Israeli junior minister who appeared to express openness to the idea of Israel carrying out a nuclear strike on Gaza had raised a huge number of questions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday suspended Heritage Minister Amihay Eliyahu, from a far-right party in the coalition government, from cabinet meetings “until further notice”.

Asked in a radio interview about a hypothetical Israeli nuclear strike on Gaza, Eliyahu had replied: “That’s one way.”

“This has raised a huge number of questions,” Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, was quoted as saying by state RIA news agency.

Zakharova said the main issue was that Israel appeared to have admitted that it had nuclear weapons.

Israel does not publicly acknowledge it has nuclear weapons though the Federation of American Scientists estimates Israel has about 90 nuclear warheads.

“Question number one – it turns out that we are hearing official statements about the presence of nuclear weapons?” Zakharova said.

If so, she said, then where are the International Atomic Energy Agency and international nuclear inspectors?

Eliyahu remark drew condemnation from around the Arab world, scandalised mainstream Israeli broadcasters, was deemed “objectionable” by a U.S. official, and Iran called for a swift international response.

“The UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency must take immediate and uninterrupted action to disarm this barbaric and apartheid regime. Tomorrow is late,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on platform X on Monday.

Eliyahu appeared to backtrack, saying in a social media post: “It is clear to anyone who is sensible that the nuclear remark was metaphorical.”

But he added: “A strong and disproportionate response to terrorism is definitely required, which will clarify to the Nazis and their supporters that terrorism is not worthwhile.”

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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