JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israel is considering plans to build a nuclear power station in its southern Negev desert, the Israeli infrastructure minister was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Israel’s Army Radio quoted the minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, as saying at an engineers conference: “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, which appeared on Army Radio’s website.
Army Radio said the plan to build the nuclear power plant was supported by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and would be considered by the government in a few months.
A spokesman from Olmert’s office declined to comment.
In the Army Radio report, Ben Eliezer said the decision to build a nuclear power station stemmed in part from Israeli concerns about depleting natural energy resources worldwide and the environmental damage caused by using coal.
Israel has long 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.