Middle East
Israel may build nuclear plant
Southern Negev desert mentioned by minister as location for proposed power station.
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2007 12:57 GMT
The Negev desert is also used for large-scale military exercises by the Israeli army [EPA]
Israel is planning to build a nuclear power station in the southern Negev desert, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the infrastructure minister, has said.
Army radio quoted Ben-Eliezer as saying that "the Israeli government will make a historical decision concerning the creation of a nuclear power station ... in the Negev".
The ministry of infrastructure was unavailable for comment on the report.
Army radio has also said that the plan to build a nuclear power plant was supported by Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, and would be considered by the government in a few months.
A spokesman from Olmert's office has declined to comment.

In the report, Ben-Eliezer said that the decision to build a nuclear-power station had stemmed from concerns about depleting natural energy resources worldwide and the environmental damage caused by using coal.

Israel has declined to confirm or deny having nuclear weapons as part of a "strategic ambiguity" policy that it says fends off numerically superior enemies.

It is widely believed to be the sole nuclear power in the Middle East.

Last month, an Israeli court sentenced Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear whisteblower, to a six-month jail term, for violating a ban on speaking to foreigners.

In 2004, Vanunu completed an 18-year prison term for leaking nuclear secrets to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper about his work as a technician at the Dimona reactor.
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