Nuclear Disarmament Israel



Mechanic in F-16 Fighting Falcon, www.idf.il

Non NPT State with Nuclear Weapons

Arsenal Size

  • Estimated arsenal: Approximately 80 nuclear weapons. [1] As Israel does not officially acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons, stockpile estimates are based on those provided by the U.S. Intelligence Community and approximations from experts.
     
  • Estimated to possess enough material for up to 200 weapons, based on assessments of plutonium stockpiles. [2]
     

Key Delivery Systems

Strategic
  • Aircraft: F-16 Falcons and F-15 Eagles capable of nuclear weapons delivery. Both have a range of 2,500 km. [3] Israel has purchased 20 F-35A Lightnings to replace older F-16s. [4] Approximately 30 of Israel’s nuclear weapons are believed to be air-deliverable gravity bombs. [5]
     
  • Land-based missiles: Approximately 100 Jericho-I (500km range) and Jericho-II (1,500km) land- and rail-mobile missiles. [6] Experts believe the Jericho-III missile, with a range of between 4,800km and 6,500km, entered service in 2011. [7] Around 50 of Israel’s nuclear weapons are believed to be launched via ground missiles. [8]
     
  • Sea-based cruise missiles/submarines: The specific type and capacities of Israel's Sea-based cruise missiles are unknown. Israel possesses 5 diesel-electric submarines believed capable of nuclear-armed cruise missile delivery. [9]
     

Estimated Destructive Power

  • Total yield (assuming 60-200 nuclear weapons): 1.6-12 megatons [10]


Israeli Air Force F-16s
www.defenseimagery.mil

Military Fissile Material Stockpiles

Disarmament and Commitments to Reduce Arsenal Size

Future commitments
  • Israel asserts that states in the Middle East must establish peaceful relations before negotiations on a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone can begin. [14]
     
  • Israel has resisted several international calls for a Middle East WMD Free Zone in the Middle East, including those emanating from the 1995, 2005, and 2010 NPT Review Conferences. [15] The draft final document at the 2015 NPT Review Conference called on the UN Secretary General to convene a Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East WMD Free Zone by 2016. [16] The document was blocked by the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Indefinite postponement of the Conference means that Israel does not have to declare its nuclear capabilities. [17]
     
  • Strongly opposes a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) on the basis that an FMCT would undermine its policy of "nuclear opacity," and that it would not safeguard against regional nuclear proliferation. [18] Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to assert that Israel will never sign the FMCT. [19]
     

Nuclear Weapons Policies

Nuclear Testing
  • No confirmed nuclear weapon tests [20]
     
  • Party to PTBT (bans testing in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater) [21]
     
  • Signed the CTBT, but has not ratified the treaty. Israel is the only non-NPT nuclear possessing state to sign the CTBT. [22] Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the CTBT Preparatory Organization, and indicated that Israel would ratify the treaty at some point in the future. [23]
     
Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • Maintains a policy of "nuclear opacity" where it neither confirms nor denies possession of nuclear weapons. [24]
     
  • Since 1963, Israel has pledged to "not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East." [25] This is frequently interpreted to mean that Israel will not test or publicly declare the existence of its nuclear weapons. [26]
     

Sources:
[1] Merav Datan, "Israel," Assuring Destruction Forever, Reaching Critical Will, pp. 48-52, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[2] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Israeli Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 70, No. 6, pp. 97-115, November/December 2014, www.thebulletin.org; Merav Datan, "Israel," Assuring Destruction Forever, Reaching Critical Will, March 2012, pp. 44-50, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[3] Merav Datan, "Israel," Assuring Destruction Forever, Reaching Critical Will, March 2012, pp. 44-50, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; Meray Datan, "Israel," Still Assuring Destruction Forever, Reaching Critical Will, March 2013, pp. 13, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[4] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Israeli Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 70, No. 6, pp. 97-115, November/December 2014, www.thebulletin.org.
[5] SIPRI, "SIPRI Yearbook 2013: Armaments, Disarmament and National Security," Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2013. www.sipri.org.
[6] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Israeli Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 70, No. 6, pp. 97-115, November/December 2014, www.thebulletin.org.
[7] Duncan Lenox, ed. "Jericho 1/2/3/ (YA-1/YA-3/YA-4)," Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems (Offensive Weapons), Issue 50, (Surrey: Jane's Information Group, September 2012).
[8] "Submarines and Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM): Israel Profile," Arms Control Association, www.armscontrol.org.
[9] "SIPRI Yearbook 2013: Armaments, Disarmament and National Security," SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2013, www.sipri.org.
[10] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Israeli Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 70, No. 6, pp. 97-115, November/December 2014, www.thebulletin.org; "Israel Submarine Capabilities," www.nti.org, July 30, 2015.
[11] Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, "Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policy Makers," Report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, November 2009, pp. 20, www.icnnd.org.
[12] "Global Fissile Material Report 2013," International Panel on Fissile Materials, January 2014, www.fissilematerials.org.
[13] There have been several classified investigations into allegations that Israel acquired approximately 100kg HEU from the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation in the United States in the late 1960s. It is still unconfirmed whether Israel received diverted HEU from the U.S. naval nuclear fuel plant. Alexander Glaser and Zia Mian, "Fissile Materials and Stocks, 2008," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 35-47, January 2009, www.thebulletin.org; "Global Fissile Material Report, 2013," International Panel on Fissile Materials, January 2014, www.fissilematerials.org.
[14] Dr. Paul Chorev, Director General of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Statement at the 53rd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, September 2009, www.iaea.org.
[15] Kelsey Davenport, "WMD-Free Middle East Proposal at a Glance," Arms Control Association, June 2015, www.armscontrol.org.
[16] Kelsey Davenport, "WMD-Free Middle East Proposal at a Glance," Arms Control Association, June 2015, www.armscontrol.org.
[17] Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, "Rough Seas Ahead: Issues for the 2015 NPT Review Conference," Arms Control Today, April 2014, www.armscontrol.org.
[18] WMD-Free Middle East Proposal at a Glance, Fact Sheets and Briefs, Arms Control Association, June 2015, www.armscontrol.org.
[19] "Israel," Banning the Production of Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons: Country Perspectives on the Challenges to a Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty, Global Fissile Material Report 2008, www.fissilematerials.org.
[20] Aluf Benn, "The Struggle to Keep Nuclear Capabilities Secret," Ha'aretz, September 14, 1999, cited in Avner Cohen's, The Worst Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain with the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 2010), p. 233.
[21] On September 22, 1979, a U.S. VELA monitoring satellite detected a flash over the South Atlantic. This is speculated to have been nuclear test conducted South Africa or Israel, or possibly the two in collaboration. Formally, this matter remains unresolved. Jeffrey T. Richelson, "The Vela Incident: Nuclear Test or Meteoroid?" National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 190, May 5, 2006, www.gwu.edu; Avner Cohen and William Burr, "Israel Crosses the Threshold," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 62(3), May 2006, pp. 22-30, www.thebulletin.org.
[22] "Israel," Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations and Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, last updated November 18, 2010, www.nonproliferation.org.
[23] Joseph Cirincione, Jon B. Wolfsthal, Miriam Rajkumar, Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats, (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), pp. 259.
[24] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), pp. 119-140; Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
[25] Michael Krepon, "An Introduction to Non-introduction," Arms Control Wonk, July 24, 2009, www.armscontrolwonk.com.
[26] Henry A. Kissinger, "Israeli Nuclear Program," Memorandum to the President, The White House, declassified August 23, 2007, www.nixon.archives.gov; Avner Cohen and William Burr, "Israel Crosses the Threshold," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 62(3), May 2006, pp. 22-30, www.thebulletin.org.

July 14, 2017
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The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.