Powell Says Israel Takes Tough Stance on Weapons

Initial talks between the United States and Israel over nuclear weapons ended a day early today, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell hinted strongly that they had not gone well and that Israel had taken a highly belligerent stance.

Only hours after the talks in Tel Aviv ended sooner than expected, Mr. Powell indicated in Washington that the Israelis had made some threats. But he warned that they should not think that they had intimidated anyone.

"They should not leave this series of discussions with the slightest impression that the United States and its partners, and the nations in the region, will be intimidated by bellicose statements or by threats or actions," Mr. Powell said.

The secretary did not give any details of the Israeli statements or threats. But shortly after Mr. Powell spoke at a foreign-affairs conference here today, there were reports that Israel had implied during the talks that they already had nuclear weapons — in other words, that their ambitions have become achievements.

The State Department spokesman, Richard A. Boucher, deflected questions this afternoon on whether Israel had said it had nuclear weapons. "I'm not going to try to speak for Israel," Mr. Boucher said. "We have certainly said for many years now that we thought Israel had nuclear weapons, so it would not come as any great surprise for them to say something like that."

"The one thing that is absolutely clear, once again," Mr. Powell concluded, "is that there is unity within the community that we must not allow the Middle East to become nuclear. This is the strong view of the Russian government, of course of the United States and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and of Iran, Egypt and other neighbors in the region. Israel must come to understand this."