Despite the high level of secrecy surrounding Israel’s nuclear programme, a US study reports that the country has over 100 nuclear warheads.
A new US report says that Israel possesses 115 nuclear warheads in its secret arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
The report by the Washington DC-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), indicates that the arsenal is larger than previously thought, with most previous estimates suggesting Israel had around 80 warheads, which brought it roughly on par with the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan. Other estimates have put the figure much higher, at closer to 200, highlighting the secrecy that continues to shroud Israel’s nuclear programme.
The ISIS report, which was based on previous reports and investigations, also states that Israel has produced about 660 kilograms of plutonium at the Dimona reactor in the Negev desert.
The site includes a heavy water reactor, a fuel fabrication plant and a plutonium separation plant, all of which were secretly provided by France in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway are also widely believed to have supplied Israel with nuclear materials at the time, allowing it to build up a clandestine and as yet never officially declared nuclear arsenal, neither confirming nor denying its stockpiles.
According to the report, which was published by the institute on its website on Thursday, each nuclear warhead carries between 3-5 kilograms of plutonium. The report revealed that Israel began to develop its nuclear programme in 1963.
While many have long known about the programme, its existence was confirmed by the declassification of formerly secret US government documents, with its existence further revealed by former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who in 1986 said that the nuclear weapons programme was much larger than commonly assessed at that time.
Israel was the sixth country in possession of nuclear weapons, after the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Report: Israel has 115 nuclear warheads, 660kg of plutonium ~ Ynet, 21 Nov, 2015.
Institute For Science and International Security report claims Israel has ‘wide range of delivery vehicles for its nuclear weapons,’ including nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
A report by the Institute For Science and International Security (ISIS) released last week claims Israel has 115 nuclear warheads and some 660 kg of plutonium.
Israel has never confirmed or denied having nuclear weapons under a policy of ambiguity aimed at deterring longtime Arab and Muslim adversaries.
The report, written by institute founder David Albright, is based largely on information leaked by Mordechai Vanunu in 1986, as well as intelligence reports, media reports and other research.
In his report, Albright reviews Israel’s alleged nuclear activities at the Dimona nuclear reactor which started, he claims, shortly before the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Dimona nuclear reactor (Photo: Getty ImageBank)
The report’s assessment that Israel has some 660 kilograms of plutonium is slightly lower than the amount estimated by the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) because Albright believes the Dimona reactor’s production capabilities are lower than what the IPFM researchers believe.
“The actual number of Israeli nuclear weapons is a closely guarded secret,” Albright explains.
“Israel has a wide range of delivery vehicles for its nuclear weapons. With French assistance in the 1960s, Israel developed the nuclear-capable Jericho ballistic missile. It has developed several improved missiles since then on its own, as well as nuclear-capable cruise missiles. It also has aircraft that can deliver nuclear weapons. It may have the capability to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from its submarines.”
According to the report, Israel also illegally procured a wide variety of high tech nuclear equipment from abroad, that can be used both for civilian and military purposes.
“In the 1990s, under US pressure, senior Israeli government officials stated that Israel committed not to violate supplier controls to acquire dual-use goods for its nuclear programs,” Albright notes.
However, “occasional procurements possibly intended for the nuclear program are observed despite this pledge,” he notes.
Albright’s estimate of the number of nuclear warheads Israel allegedly has is based on the assumption each warhead has 3-5 kilograms of plutonium. Based on the amount of plutonium he believes Israel has, it amounts to 165 warheads.
But Albright estimates Israel did not use all of the plutonium in its possession to build warheads, so the number of nuclear warheads it actually has is more likely around 115, as of the end of 2014.