May 29, 2009

Israel's Nuclear Weapons
Nuweiba, Egypt

I spent two or so hours last night reading in depth about the Arab/Israeli wars a few decades ago, and a portion of today reading this pretty eye-opening paper on the development and armament of the country's nuclear arsenal.

It's a fascinating read for those that have the time and interest, particularly how cozy the country was with the French and South Africans, and how they not only likely leveraged blackmail on German officials to reach their goals (think Nazi war crimes info), but also used the threat of nuclear deployment to ensure the United States' continued steady supply of conventional war machines/technology to the country.



The Third Temple's Holy of Holies: Israel's Nuclear Weapons, written in 1999.

This paper is a history of the Israeli nuclear weapons program drawn from a review of unclassified sources. Israel began its search for nuclear weapons at the inception of the state in 1948. As payment for Israeli participation in the Suez Crisis of 1956, France provided nuclear expertise and constructed a reactor complex for Israel at Dimona capable of large-scale plutonium production and reprocessing. The United States discovered the facility by 1958 and it was a subject of continual discussions between American presidents and Israeli prime ministers.

Israel used delay and deception to at first keep the United States at bay, and later used the nuclear option as a bargaining chip for a consistent American conventional arms supply. After French disengagement in the early 1960s, Israel progressed on its own, including through several covert operations, to project completion. Before the 1967 Six-Day War, they felt their nuclear facility threatened and reportedly assembled several nuclear devices. By the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel had a number of sophisticated nuclear bombs, deployed them, and considered using them. The Arabs may have limited their war aims because of their knowledge of the Israeli nuclear weapons.

Israel has most probably conducted several nuclear bomb tests. They have continued to modernize and vertically proliferate and are now one of the world's larger nuclear powers. Using "bomb in the basement" nuclear opacity, Israel has been able to use its arsenal as a deterrent to the Arab world while not technically violating American nonproliferation requirements.

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