Military Review

Israel's nuclear potential: rumors and versions

Israel's nuclear potential: rumors and versions
Nahal Sorek Nuclear Center during construction, 1960. Photo by the Israeli government

Shortly after its founding, modern Israel launched its own nuclear program. According to official data, it had purely peaceful purposes, and the creation of a nuclear weapons was not planned. However, over time, Israeli scientists and military personnel began to be suspected of developing special combat units and means of their delivery. By now, Israel may have accumulated significant stockpiles of nuclear weapons, although it denies this.

Advanced technologies

Israel took up the topic of nuclear technology just a few years after its creation. So, at the very end of the forties, a fundamental decision was made to develop this area, and in 1952 the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) was founded. Soon this body developed a plan for the construction of specialized organizations and enterprises that were supposed to engage in real projects in the nuclear field.

In 1955, Israel entered into an agreement with the United States to build the country's first nuclear power plant. This facility is now known as the Nahal Soreq Nuclear Research Center. A nuclear power plant with a 5 MW light water reactor was located near the cities of Yavne and Palmachim near the Sorek River. In mid-1960, the physical start-up of the reactor took place. According to official data, the Nahal Sorek nuclear power plant was intended to generate electricity, produce isotopes for nuclear medicine and gain operating experience.

At the same time, a second nuclear research center was built in Dimona, launched in 1964. At that time, its main facility was a 28 MW heavy water reactor of French design. Like the Yavne center, the Dimona facility produced electricity and isotopes, and also provided research and expertise.

Center in Dimona, 1968. Photo:

Already at the stage of construction of the first facilities, the Israeli nuclear program faced opposition. In 1960, a group of politicians and scientists organized the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament in the Middle East. He called on Israel to abandon its nuclear program and demanded that foreign countries stop all assistance in this direction. The Committee assumed that the emergence of nuclear weapons in Israel would force the Arab states to also take up this issue. Such an arms race could have the most dire consequences, primarily for Israel itself.

Bomb rumors

Two reactors supplied by third countries had the fundamental ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Already in the early sixties, Israel began to be suspected of this. Various assumptions were made abroad and corresponding rumors circulated. At the same time, the Israeli military and political leadership was in no hurry to refute or confirm them.

According to some reports, by the end of the sixties, the Israel Defense Forces already had several nuclear bombs with unknown characteristics. The possibility of their use in the proposed Arab-Israeli wars was considered. By the middle of the next decade, due to continued production, the number of available warheads could increase several times. At the same time, production rates remained low. It is assumed that the existing nuclear centers made it possible to assemble only a few new munitions each year.

Interestingly, Israel does not appear to have conducted full-scale tests of its nuclear warheads, although it was suspected of doing so. Thus, in September 1979, in the area of ​​the Prince Edward Islands in the Indian Ocean, an outbreak similar to the air explosion of a low-power nuclear weapon was recorded. Israel and South Africa were suspected of carrying out this explosion, but no evidence could be obtained.

Israeli fighter-bomber F-15I. Photo by Israeli Ministry of Defense

In the mid-eighties, new evidence emerged of the military nature of the Israeli nuclear program. A former employee of the center in Dimona, Mordechai Vanunu, told the foreign press about the presence of developments of a military nature and showed photographs of production. The Israeli leadership did not confirm this information, but the Mossad kidnapped M. Vanunu and returned him to the country for trial on charges of treason.

Subsequently, the topic of Israeli nuclear weapons was repeatedly raised at different levels and in different contexts. Now it is being discussed again, this time in connection with the recent attack by Hamas militants on Israeli territory with numerous casualties. Some Israeli public and political figures propose solving the issue of the Gaza Strip using the most radical method.

Current potential

Official Israel neither confirms nor denies the presence of nuclear weapons. In turn, among foreign specialists and politicians, the version about the existence of Israeli nuclear potential is more widespread. However, reliable information on this matter is still missing, and one has to rely on fragmentary information and various indirect evidence.

According to various estimates, by now Israel could produce up to 150-200 nuclear weapons using its existing facilities. However, there are also more modest estimates. Thus, the Federation of American Scientists gives the upper limit no higher than 90-100 units. There is a version according to which by the mid-XNUMXs the IDF had fulfilled its needs for special ammunition, and their production was discontinued.

The F-16I is a possible carrier of nuclear weapons. Photo by Israeli Ministry of Defense

Precise technical information is not available. Apparently, the IDF only has plutonium charges. Their power can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. Warheads of different sizes and weights can be produced for use as part of various ammunition and complexes.

Delivery vehicles

Using special ammunition of its own production and other available means, Israel could build a full-fledged nuclear triad. Due to the size of the region and the proposed theater of operations, there is virtually no division into tactical and strategic parts.

The IDF is armed with Jericho-3 ballistic missiles. Accurate information about these products is not yet available. It is assumed that these are medium-range missiles (up to 5-5,5 thousand km) with a throw weight of approx. 1 t. At the same time, some foreign publications provide higher range estimates. According to official data, Jericho-3, like any other Israeli weapons, carries only a conventional warhead, but the possibility of installing a nuclear one is assumed.

The air component of the nuclear force is currently believed to be based on the F-15I and F-16I multi-role fighters. In the past, combat aviation could use free-falling bombs with a special charge. Gabriel missiles of later modifications are now being considered as a delivery vehicle. The flight range of such ammunition is at least 30-35 km.

A Dolphin-class submarine capable of launching missiles through torpedo tubes. Photo by Israeli Ministry of Defense

In the nineties and two thousand, the IDF Navy received several German-built diesel-electric submarines of the Dolphin type. They are equipped with 650 mm and 533 mm (according to other sources, only 533 mm) torpedo tubes with the ability to launch Harpoon missiles. According to the widespread version, a modification of the “Harpoon” with nuclear equipment or a similar missile with a special warhead was created in Israel. The flight range, depending on the type and modification of the rocket, can reach 250-280 km.

Main secret

Thus. Israel began studying nuclear technology about 70 years ago and soon, with foreign assistance, built and launched the first facilities of the future nuclear industry. It was reported that all work of this kind was related only to science, energy, etc., while the military use of new technologies was not envisaged. However, the characteristic features of the nuclear program and the current situation in the region have led to the emergence of a version of the development of nuclear weapons.

Whether Israel actually has nuclear weapons is still unknown. There is no exact information on this matter, and different versions can be expressed. For example, it cannot be ruled out that special ammunition was nevertheless created and entered into service. The diametrically opposite version about the absence of nuclear systems also has a right to life. In this case, rumors about their existence may be a deliberate bluff and misinformation. However, deterrence tasks are solved in any case - both with the help of real ammunition, and through information about them alone.
31 comment

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  1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Vorontsov
    Vladimir Vladimirovich Vorontsov 11 October 2023 04: 10
    Whether Israel actually has nuclear weapons is still unknown -

    “We don’t have nuclear weapons, but if necessary, we will use them.”
    Golda Meir, 4th Prime Minister of Israel (1969-1974)
  2. Constantine N
    Constantine N 11 October 2023 04: 39
    calm down, if there is technical superiority (and Israel has it), use nuclear weapons, and especially no one will be near their territory
    1. Aaron Zawi
      Aaron Zawi 11 October 2023 05: 44
      In general, nuclear weapons are simply a guarantee that we will not die unavenged.
      1. paul3390
        paul3390 11 October 2023 09: 13
        Do you understand what will happen to Jews in many other countries if Israel does fire a nuclear bomb on a major Arab city? what After all, not the majority of the Jewish people live here... what
        1. Wolfskin1993
          Wolfskin1993 11 October 2023 11: 34
          You're strange! Don’t you understand that the current situation was inspired by the Jews themselves, just like all the previous “pogroms” and “Holocausts”!
          1. Aaron Zawi
            Aaron Zawi 11 October 2023 13: 20
            Quote from Wolfskin1993
            You're strange! Don’t you understand that the current situation was inspired by the Jews themselves, just like all the previous “pogroms” and “Holocausts”!

            I love you anti-Semitic people, living in Israel. tongue
        2. prorab_ak
          prorab_ak 11 October 2023 11: 42
          Why were you suddenly worried?
          The sons of Israel will shy away only when everything is completely gone. And in this case, the problems of individual Jews in other countries will be a problem for them on page 5 from the list of other much more global global problems.
        3. DrVintorez
          DrVintorez 11 October 2023 17: 23
          Quote: paul3390
          After all, it’s not the majority of the Jewish people who live here...

          Well, not even the majority of the Jewish people live in Israel =)))
      2. Wolfskin1993
        Wolfskin1993 11 October 2023 11: 32
        We'll have to hit you hard. Tactics, but a lot, in order to destroy all possible spots at once.
  3. Ross xnumx
    Ross xnumx 11 October 2023 04: 49
    Whether Israel actually has nuclear weapons is still unknown.

    Did they test it or do they have the same developments as on Merkava and the Iron Dome?
    If available (ready for use), then only someone else’s (in the form of the same American aerial bombs that are stored at American military bases in Europe)...
    Nuclear weapons are not such weapons that they can be created (riveted) without testing. Here they cannot create medicines with a known formula...
    And all this shaking of air by Golda Meir took place in the last century, in which a lot of things happened...
    In this case, rumors about their existence may be a deliberate bluff and misinformation.

    Closer to the truth...
    1. Luminman
      Luminman 11 October 2023 05: 42
      Quote: ROSS 42
      Nuclear weapons are not such weapons that they can be created (riveted) without testing

      They may well test it on the territory of their ally, the United States...
    2. Popandos
      Popandos 11 October 2023 07: 48
      Nuclear weapons are not such weapons that they can be created (riveted) without testing.

      This is true if you create the device yourself from scratch, it was easier for the Jews, they have their own isotopes, the design is proven by tests, American.
  4. zontov79
    zontov79 11 October 2023 05: 11
    The potential is the same as that of their rooster army, as well as that of the invincible Merkava.
  5. Comrade Kim
    Comrade Kim 11 October 2023 06: 23
    Quote: Aron Zaavi
    In general, nuclear weapons are simply a guarantee that we will not die unavenged.

    It would be fair if Syria also had nuclear weapons.
    For balance, so that the Syrians would be sure that if they die, their nuclear weapons will incinerate the aggressors.

    But Israel destroyed the Syrian nuclear center.

    When the balance of power in the region is restored (the Palestinian state is finally created by UN resolution), Israel's Arab neighbors will receive a comparable amount of nuclear weapons, Israel will live a peaceful life.

    But that will never happen.
    Israel will always pull the blanket over itself, convincing the world that only they have the right to possess nuclear weapons, and all Arabs, blacks and Syrians are unworthy of this.

    And blood will be shed, and Jews will kill 10-15 Palestinian children for every Israeli killed.

    And it will always be so.
    1. paul3390
      paul3390 11 October 2023 09: 17
      Israel's Arab neighbors will receive comparable amounts of nuclear weapons

      I don't think it's a good idea to give the Arabs nuclear weapons... belay If there are a significant number of stubborn barmalei in those parts, sooner or later it will definitely end up in their clutches.. But then.. belay
      1. ZAV69
        ZAV69 11 October 2023 20: 52
        I don't think it's a good idea to give the Arabs nuclear weapons...
        100% Pakistan has it
    2. astepanov
      astepanov 11 October 2023 09: 52
      Listen to you, peace will come as soon as ISIS receives nuclear weapons. But in fact, this is where it all begins. Fundamentalism is fundamentally aimed at the complete extermination of everything that deviates even a hair's breadth from Sharia, and does not recognize the value not only of the lives of people of other faiths, but also of the lives of fellow believers. Have you forgotten how videos of prisoners being cut off and being crushed by a tank were posted online? Have you forgotten the suicide bombings in the Moscow metro? Forgot Beslan, Budenovsk?
      Quote: Comrade Kim
      And blood will be shed, and Jews will kill 10-15 Palestinian children for every Israeli killed.
      You apparently didn’t think that this whole mess began (as in all previous times) with untargeted shelling of Israel, with the taking of children and women hostage. So what, you should have sent flowers in response? Complain to KVN? What would you do? I do not justify Israel - but in all previous years Palestine did not so much fight for the creation of its own state as engage in anti-fade, read - terrorism.
  6. KCA
    KCA 11 October 2023 06: 24
    I had quite a few Jewish friends, I don’t remember all of them, three of them graduated from MEPhI, one from Physics and Technology, which somehow hints at the possibility of Israel’s scientific potential for creating nuclear weapons. The one who graduated from Phystech is generally cool, I called as a child - Max, let's go for a walk - no, I'd rather chat, now in the USA, professor, married a Hindu, ended his Jewish family line
  7. Magic archer
    Magic archer 11 October 2023 07: 44
    The very fact of the development and production of Jericho missiles suggests that the Jews have nuclear weapons. Okay, the first was operationally tactical, but the third is already a full-fledged ICBM! And a fool understands that no one will develop and produce such missiles for conventional warheads..
  8. The comment was deleted.
    1. Timofey Charuta
      Timofey Charuta 11 October 2023 11: 13
      They pecked at Samsonov, now they’ve started on Ryabov...

      The Jewish atomic bomb is a truly interesting and relevant topic. Probably the finger on the atomic button is itching - to fuck with the nasty Iran...

      With the beginning of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in local conflicts, a lot in this world will change.

      And there are no other articles about Israeli nuclear weapons yet, write your own and then start covering for Ryabov...
  9. Igar
    Igar 11 October 2023 11: 00
    The author forgot about the presence in Israel of Popeye Turbo SLCM sea-based cruise missiles with a flight range, according to some estimates, from 1500 to 2500 km. They can also carry a special warhead.
  10. Wolfskin1993
    Wolfskin1993 11 October 2023 11: 39
    In fact, Zionism is much worse than Hitler’s Nazism. By an order of magnitude, or even two!
    1. Aaron Zawi
      Aaron Zawi 11 October 2023 13: 22
      Quote from Wolfskin1993
      In fact, Zionism is much worse than Hitler’s Nazism. By an order of magnitude, or even two!

      For schizophrenics, of course.
  11. Wolfskin1993
    Wolfskin1993 11 October 2023 13: 03
    The Israeli Fuhrer appealed to the soldiers to kill everyone and without any remorse, as if he takes full responsibility upon himself. THIS reminds me of someone.
  12. nordscout
    nordscout 11 October 2023 14: 01
    Taking into account the Israeli scientific and technical “brain”, the systematic “leaks” of scientists - physicists, chemists, engineers to the “promised land” and the significant assistance of France in the creation of the Israeli nuclear program and its embodiment in “marble and bronze”, in the form of research nuclear reactors, allows us to make the assumption that Israel has nuclear weapons... True, they are unlikely to be able to use it at the moment, even in a critically desperate situation, since they well understand that the desert landscape of the Middle East is specific " the wind rose" over Israel (mostly "blows" on Israel from Syria and Jordan) will not leave a single chance for the survival (preservation) of the "God's chosen" people on the territory of Israel... Although this whole "song" is about "nuclear Israel", maybe just a well-constructed "misinformation" for the inexperienced Middle Eastern public and other international community.....
  13. point
    point 11 October 2023 14: 02
    The very discussion of the possibility of tactical strikes with nuclear weapons by both the Russian Federation and Israel, and in general the use of this topic in modern media conflicts, is water on the wheels of war at the request of the globalists, who need chaos as a means of survival for their loved ones. The use of nuclear weapons is unjustified against a conventional war - it is only a deterrent to idiotic desires for the total destruction of nations. “Northern communists must give” - this idiocy is countered by the carrier to Los Angeles. And Poland will have to be buried in the turf with caterpillars. And in general, modern explosives are so capable of turning off electricity and water that one should be afraid of a war in space, not nuclear weapons. As soon as one of the countries declares the doctrine of suppression through space, expect a world war.
  14. DrVintorez
    DrVintorez 11 October 2023 17: 15
    Quote: Timofey Charuta
    They pecked at Samsonov, now they’ve started on Ryabov...

    Did I peck at Samsonov? or was it a random appeal?
  15. Diger
    Diger 11 October 2023 17: 49
    Quote: Ryabov Kirill
    Whether Israel actually has nuclear weapons is still unknown. There is no exact information on this matter, and different versions can be expressed.

    inspired by the article:

    I wonder how many articles he has in store for all occasions?
  16. Tikhonov_Alexander
    Tikhonov_Alexander 11 October 2023 20: 25
    The delivery of even a single nuclear strike by the Jews against any of their enemies will be the end of their state and world Jewry will never again acquire a state. But Iran simply needs to have nuclear weapons - this will be the most effective means against the Jewish-fascist state. The West helped the Jews and Pakistan create nuclear weapons - so why don’t we or the DPRK help Iran? But our government has little guts - it still supports Western sanctions against both Iran and the DPRK...
    1. Cartographer
      Cartographer 21 November 2023 15: 53
      Quote: Tikhonov_Alexander
      They're in

      The spread of nuclear weapons across different countries increases the risk of their use. Chemical weapons were used in the Iran-Iraq war by both sides. In addition, radical Islamism is also like that.
  17. Comrade Kim
    Comrade Kim 12 October 2023 15: 33
    Quote from Wolfskin1993
    In fact, Zionism is much worse than Hitler’s Nazism. By an order of magnitude, or even two!

    The UN, in its resolution, clearly defined what Zionism is.

    But less than a month had passed since the collapse of the USSR, with the help of our government and enormous pressure from Israel, this resolution was canceled.

    You are exaggerating about the “orders”; you just equated Zionism with radical, extremist movements.

    But regarding “business”, I completely agree with you.
    So many children are dying at the hands of the Zionists that the fascists fade into the background in terms of cruelty.