Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday defended his country's longstanding policy of not confirming or denying it possesses nuclear weapons, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Fantasy plays an extremely great role to increase the deterrence, so it is ambiguous, yes," Peres said in an interview with the France 24 television channel. "Why should I clarify?"
International calls have mounted in recent years for Israel to come clean about its widely assumed nuclear arsenal of around 80 warheads and to sign on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Arab nations have made achieving Israeli disclosure a reoccurring theme at annual International Atomic Energy Agency meetings and have called on the Israeli government to participate in regional negotiations on establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone for the Middle East.
"It depends why you want nuclear weapons. For me a nuclear option was an instrument to lead to peace not to attack," said Peres, who played an important role in convincing France in the 1950s to provide Israel with the critical nuclear assistance that would allow it to develop a weapons program. "It was a deterrence that had nothing to do with reality whether we have it or not."
Last month, the aging Israeli statesman said his country would "seriously" contemplate joining the Chemical Weapons Convention amid heightened international attention about the danger posed by chemical arms following the Syrian military's assumed large-scale usage to devastating effect of sarin nerve agent in an attack on a suburb of Damascus.