Nuclear Weapons And Israel
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons and to be the sixth country in the world to have developed them. It is one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the others being India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel maintains a policy known as "nuclear ambiguity" (also known as "nuclear opacity"). Israel has never officially admitted to having nuclear weapons, instead repeating over the years that it would not be the first country to "introduce" nuclear weapons to the Middle East, leaving ambiguity as to whether it means it will not create, will not disclose, will not make first use of the weapons or possibly some other interpretation of the phrase. The "not be the first" formulation goes back to before March 11, 1965, when a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Washington noted "The Government of Israel has reaffirmed that Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Arab-Israel area." Israel has refused to sign the NPT despite international pressure to do so, and has stated that signing the NPT would be contrary to its national security interests.
Israel started investigating the nuclear field soon after its founding in 1948 and with French support secretly began building a nuclear reactor and reprocessing plant in the late 1950s. Israel is alleged to have developed a nuclear weapon in the late 1960s, but it is not publicly confirmed. Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician, provided explicit details and photographs to the London Sunday Times of a nuclear weapons program in which he had been employed for nine years, "including equipment for extracting radioactive material for arms production and laboratory models of thermonuclear devices."
Estimates as to the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal vary between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, with most estimates at less than 200 warheads. It is also estimated that Israel has the ability to deliver them by the intercontinental ballistic missile Jericho III, aircraft, and submarine.
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