THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
December 13, 2006
The Guardian

Israel PM Admits That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons

by Luke Harding and Duncan Campbell

After decades in which Israel has stuck to a doctrine of nuclear ambiguity, Mr Olmert let slip during an interview in Germany that Israel did indeed have weapons of mass destruction.

He told Germany's Sat.1 channel on Monday evening: "Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly, threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel and Russia?"

Mr Olmert's admission comes less than a week after the incoming US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, speculating at a Senate confirmation hearing on Iran's possible motives for trying to build nuclear arms, suggested that Israel had the bomb. . . .

Israel has long declined to confirm or deny having the bomb as part of a "strategic ambiguity" policy that it says fends off numerically superior Arab enemies. But Arabs and Iran see a double standard in US policy in the region.

By not declaring itself to be nuclear-armed, Israel gets round a US ban on funding countries that proliferate weapons of mass destruction. It can thus enjoy more than $2bn (£1.02bn) a year in military and other aid from Washington.

Israel's main atomic reactor, officially for civilian use, became operational in the early 1960s. The CIA first concluded that Israel had begun to produce nuclear weapons in 1968, but few details emerged until 1986 when Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the nuclear facility, gave the Sunday Times detailed descriptions that led defence analysts to rank the country as the sixth largest nuclear power. . . .

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[The military assistance agreements would provide $30 billion in new U.S. aid to Israel and $13 billion to Egypt over 10 years--Robin Wright, "U.S. Plans New Arms Sales to Gulf Allies," Washington Post, July 28, 2007]

[On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east."

The single reference is far more than the U.S. usually would state publicly about Israel, even though the world knew Israel to be a nuclear power years before former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu went public with facts on its weapons program in 1986.

Several years later investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published "The Samson Option," detailing Israel's strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened. Israel's nuclear arsenal has been estimated to range from 200 to 400 warheads.

Yet Israel has refused to confirm or deny it's nuclear capabilities, and the U.S. has gone along with the charade.--Bryant Jordan, "US Army Confirms Israeli Nukes," Military.com, March 18, 2009]

[Despite being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), since its 1979 revolution and especially over the past 10 years, Iran has come under unprecedented scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program. Meanwhile, Israel—one of only four NPT non-signatories (Pakistan, India and North Korea are the others) and the only state in the Middle East actually possessing nuclear weapons—has remained free from any meaningful international oversight. While Iran has suffered debilitating economic sanctions over unproven suspicions that it might have a clandestine nuclear weapons program, Israel, with an arsenal of hundreds of modern nuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system capable of targeting the entire Middle East and Europe, is permitted to act with impunity.

. . . Israel possesses enough nuclear weapons to destroy every major Middle Eastern city several times over. Like the U.S. and Russia, the Israeli nuclear threat is based on a triad of delivery systems: long-range bombers, ballistic missiles and submarines, with which it can target all of Europe and the Middle East, and much of Asia and Africa.--John Steinbach, "Comparing Israel's and Iran's Nuclear Programs," washington-report.org, July 2011]

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