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Israel

Although Israel has possessed nuclear weapons since the 1960’s, it maintains a policy of nuclear opacity, never officially confirming the existence of its nuclear program. Accordingly, Israel has never signed the NPT. Israel manufactures and deploys a diverse range of technologically sophisticated ballistic missile, cruise missile and missile defense systems.

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Region   Middle East and North Africa

90 Estimated nuclear warheads

~980 kg Approximate plutonium stockpile

3 Dolphin 2-class submarines, believed capable of launching nuclear cruise missiles

6,500 km Maximum ballistic missile range


Nuclear

  • Believed to possess enough nuclear material to produce 200 nuclear weapons
  • No declared nuclear weapons tests, but believed to have conducted atmospheric test in cooperation with South Africa in 1979
  • Opposes diplomatic efforts to establish a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East

Israel Nuclear Overview


Biological

  • Non-membership in BTWC and lack of public commentary has led to speculation of offensive weapons capabilities
  • Operates sophisticated biodefense program
  • Adopted export controls on biological materials in line with Australia Group standards

Israel Biological Overview


Missile

  • Domestically produces variety of missiles including sea-launched cruise missiles as well as short and long range ballistic missiles
  • Employs sophisticated multi-layered missile defense system, Iron Dome
  • Considered “unilateral adherent” to the MTCR restrictions on missile exports

Israel Missile Overview


Chemical

  • Evidence suggests development of an extensive chemical weapons program in the 1950s
  • Likely possesses capability to produce nerve agents, including binary agents
  • Maintains active chemical weapons defense program

Israel Chemical Overview

Treaties and Regimes Memberships

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NPT

The NPT is a treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons through the three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires countries to destroy all chemical weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using chemical weapons.

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Biological Weapons Convention (BTWC)

The BTWC mandates the elimination of existing biological weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using biological and toxin weapons.

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Conference on Disarmament (CD)

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) has 66 Member States and is the sole negotiating body for multilateral nuclear disarmament.

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Analysis

Israel

Education Center

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Sources

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 2020: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, 44th ed, Oxford University Press, 2020. p 375.

International Panel on Fissile Materials, “Global Fissile Material Report 2013,” 2013, https://fissilematerials.org/library/gfmr13.pdf

National Security Council, Memorandum, “Subject: South Atlantic Nuclear Event,” October 22, 1979 (Washington, DC, 1979), p. 1.

Avner Cohen, “Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence, and Arms Control,” The Nonproliferation Review, Fall/Winter 2001, p. 40.

Magnus Normark, Anders Lindblad, Anders Norqvist, Björn Sandström, and Louise Waldenström, “Israel and WMD: Incentives and Capabilities,” (Umeå: FOI — Swedish Defence Research Agency, 2005), pp. 36-40.

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