Does Israel Have Nuclear Weapons – However, according to foreign experts, Israel is the fourth nuclear power in the world.
Does Israel Have Nuclear Weapons, how many does Israel have?
MilitaryEzyInfo.com – Perhaps no topic about Israel is shrouded in such a fog of secrecy and uncertainty as to the question of Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. In their statements, Israel officials never confirm or deny that Israel has nuclear weapons.
The first information about Israel’s development of nuclear weapons
The first reports of Israel beginning to produce nuclear weapons appeared in a CIA report in early 1968. This estimate was based on an informal conversation between Carl Duckett, head of the CIA Science and Technology Department, and Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb. Based on their contacts with the Israels, both experts concluded that Israel had all the resources to produce a nuclear bomb.
At the same time, Israel Prime Minister Levi Eshkol responded to US President L. Johnson by saying that Israel would never be the first country in the Middle East to use atomic weapons. Even more cryptically, Ephraim Katsir, Israel’s fourth president (1973-1978), said: “We will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but neither will we be the second.
Such declarations by Israel leaders probably mean that Israel possesses not only combat nuclear capabilities, but also a powerful missile defense system capable of successfully repelling a nuclear strike of a potential aggressor against the territory of the Jewish state and striking back with a crushing blow. Preemptive strikes aimed at destroying the enemy’s nuclear potential are not ruled out. Israel’s national security strategy is based on the principle that Israel cannot afford to lose a war.
The size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is unknown and is the subject of various estimates and speculation by foreign specialists. According to the American think tank GlobalSecurity, Israel possessed two nuclear bombs during the Six-Day War in 1967. During the Doomsday War in 1973, Israel assembled thirteen atomic bombs with a capacity of 20 kilotons, although at the same time the USSR informed Egypt that Israel possessed only three nuclear warheads. After that war, according to experts, the Israel army had at least three divisions of self-propelled 175 mm cannons capable of firing shells with nuclear warheads and in the early 1980s nuclear mines were laid in the Golan Heights.
In 1974, CIA expert Carl Duckett estimated that Israel possessed between ten and twenty nuclear weapons. In the seventies and eighties, Israel may have increased its nuclear arsenal and possessed, according to experts, between 100 and 200 warheads by the mid-1990s. Experts estimate that by the end of the nineties, Israel had up to 400 nuclear weapons in its arsenal, including air bombs, warheads for mobile missile systems Jericho1 and Jericho2, and various types of tactical nuclear weapons.
There is no evidence that Israel has ever conducted a nuclear weapon test, although many experts suggest that a nuclear explosion in the southern Indian Ocean in 1979 was such a test. At precisely 0100 GMT on September 22, 1979, sensors aboard the VELA 6911 satellite detected two light flashes in the Indian Ocean near Prince Edward Island. The most obvious explanation was that someone had detonated an atomic bomb. The list of suspects was quickly narrowed down to Israel.
Israel knew that the Arabs, without the full support of the USSR, would never dare to attack the Jewish state.
Therefore, according to GlobalSecurity experts, deterrence of the USSR was one of the main goals of the Israel nuclear forces. Already in 1968, Israel adopted the fighter-bombers F-4, capable of being a platform for the delivery of nuclear bombs and a nuclear strike on the territory of the USSR.
Israel’s capabilities increased in 1979 when the U.S. agreed to provide it with KH-11 satellite images of hostile countries’ territories. Given the high range of the Israel Jericho2 missile, many analysts believed that this mobile missile system was designed specifically to thwart Russian nuclear blackmail.
Apparently, Israel’s nuclear capability played an important role in curbing the aggressive plans of the USSR – in 1982, during the Israel invasion of Lebanon, when the Soviet-backed Palestinian terrorist stronghold of Fatahland was literally wiped off the map, the destruction of the air defense system of Syria, which included divisions of Russian missile systems SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6, operated by thousands of Russian military “advisers”, and the shooting down of 90 Russian MIGs in the air battles – the USSR did not dare to launch nuclear blackmail.
Foreign experts on Israel nuclear capabilities
Strategic nuclear forces are based on a nuclear triad consisting of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched cruise missiles, and long-range fighter-bombers.
As a land-based delivery vehicle, foreign experts consider the two-stage Jericho 2 missile, whose range they define as 1500 km, and which can carry a warhead weighing up to 1 ton. A real breakthrough was Israel’s development of the three-stage Shavit missile. Israel uses this missile as a means of launching its space satellites into near-Earth orbit, but according to foreign experts, its characteristics are quite consistent with the requirements for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Total, according to Western estimates, the Israel Air Force has up to 150 missiles Jericho 1 and 50 to 90 missiles Jericho 2, as well as mobile and silo-based.
The Haaretz daily website quoted the Washington Post as saying that Israel recently tested a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in the Mediterranean Sea.
On March 8, 2005, the American weekly Defense News reported that a few days ago Israel carried out a successful test of a long-range tactical operational missile such as LORA. According to the weekly, the tests, originally scheduled for March 1, were postponed due to the detection of U.S. spy planes in the test area.
After the launch of the first Israel satellite Ofek, scientists at Livermore National Laboratory (USA) calculated that a Shavit rocket could easily transport a warhead to a distance of 7,200 km. In July 1990, Steve Vetter, a physicist at the University of Maryland, calculated the warhead weight and range of the Shavit rocket based on data from two Ofek satellite launches published in the press. He found that using the Shavit missile as an intercontinental ballistic missile, it could deliver a warhead weighing nearly 800 kg to a range of 4,000 km.
The second element of the nuclear triad is fighter-bombers, capable of bomb and missile strikes against targets deep behind enemy lines.
The Israel Air Force possesses a wide range of combat vehicles capable of carrying out this combat mission. In June 1981, Israel F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed a nuclear reactor near Baghdad. On the way to the target, the Israel planes flew thousands of kilometers at low altitude over Saudi Arabia and Iraq and were undetectable by enemy radars. In 1985, the Israel F-15s, after aerial refueling, carried out a rocket-bomb attack on the headquarters of the Palestinian terrorists in Tunisia, covering more than 2,000 kilometers to the target. In recent years, the strategic capabilities of the Israel Air Force have increased manifold with the introduction of 250 F-16I(Sufa) fighter-bombers into the Israel air force.
Arguably an important addition to the air component of Israel’s nuclear triad in recent years has been combating drones – unmanned robotic aircraft, in the production and combat use of which Israel is the acknowledged world leader. Combat drones can be used both as mobile electronic warfare vehicles to suppress enemy missile defense and air defense systems and to deliver missile strikes deep within enemy defenses. In particular, we are talking about the Eitam, a giant unmanned long-range radar detection and control (LRAD) robotic aircraft, which in the event of an attack on Iran will play a key role in providing security and targeting of attack aircraft.
The third element of the classic nuclear triad is submarines capable of carrying cruise missiles. It is known that the Israel Navy has in recent years received three Dolphin-type submarines that are considered the best in the world in terms of their seaworthiness and combat characteristics among submarines of this class.
GlobalSecurity experts suggest that these submarines could be armed with cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. According to these experts, in May 2000, Israel secretly conducted a sea missile test – missiles were launched from a submarine in the Indian Ocean and hit targets at a distance of about 1500 kilometers. Israel intends to add several more submarines of this class to its submarine fleet.