Does Israel have nuclear weapons?
Israel is believed to have weapons of mass destruction in its possession but it is one of the four countries that have not been recognized by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a Nuclear Weapon State. Moreover, it has also the capability of possessing chemical and biological warfare programs. Israel, however, maintains neutrality in regards to it possessing nuclear weapons or not.
According to the defense analysts, Israel has possessed the capability of developing a fully operating nuclear weapon since 1967. Out of these, it has produced a large amount of nuclear warheads soon after the Six-Day War. An estimate tells of 75 to 400 nuclear weapons in Israel’s possession. The wide range of nuclear systems available with Israel includes suitcase nukes, tactical nuclear weapons and neutron bombs.
It is believed that Israel welcomed some physicists from Europe following the World War II and launched its nuclear program after the declaration of independence in 1948. Israel and France came together during the 50s to work on their respective atomic programs, in an attempt to be a part of the nuclear weapons club. It led to the establishment of a nuclear reactor at Dimona near Beersheba with the collaboration of French engineers. The nuclear reactor was named Negev Nuclear Research Center. According to a research conducted then, the plant could have produced an amount of plutonium enough for making 100 – 200 bombs until the year 2000. Israel denied its intentions to build nuclear weapons and stated that it was built for peaceful purposes.
The Israeli government has taken up the policy of being ambiguous about their nuclear weapons activities deliberately, stating that Israel would “not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.” The former director general of International Atomic Energy Agency regarded Israel in possession of nuclear weapons. All the information known today about Israel’s nuclear weapons comes from the statements of a technician working at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in 1986 who served in the prison for 18 years because of his revelations.
The interesting part about Israel’s nuclear program is that it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment regarded Israel as a country that has the capability to possess chemical warfare and that too offensive and undeclared. Similarly, in 1998, the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense stated:
“I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time … There’s no doubt they’ve had stuff for years.”