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Israel and weapons of mass destruction

Israel and weapons of mass destruction

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Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 (NPT). The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment
Office of Technology Assessment
The Office of Technology Assessment was an office of the United States Congress from 1972 to 1995. OTA's purpose was to provide Congressional members and committees with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century, i.e. technology...

 has recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

 program. Officially Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons



It is believed that Israel had possessed an operational nuclear weapons capability by 1967, with the mass production of nuclear warheads occurring immediately after the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. Although no official statistics exist, it has been estimated that Israel possesses from 75 to as many as 400 nuclear weapons, which are reported to include thermonuclear weapons in the megaton
TNT equivalent
TNT equivalent is a method of quantifying the energy released in explosions. The ton of TNT is a unit of energy equal to 4.184 gigajoules, which is approximately the amount of energy released in the detonation of one ton of TNT...

 range. Israel is also reported to possess a wide range of different systems, including neutron bomb
Neutron bomb
A neutron bomb or enhanced radiation weapon or weapon of reinforced radiation is a type of thermonuclear weapon designed specifically to release a large portion of its energy as energetic neutron radiation rather than explosive energy...

s, tactical nuclear weapons, and suitcase nuke
Suitcase nuke
A suitcase nuke is a tactical nuclear weapon which uses, or is portable enough that it could use, a suitcase as its delivery method. Synonyms include suitcase bomb, backpack nuke, mini-nuke, pocket nuke and snuke....

s. Israel is believed to manufacture its nuclear weapons at the Negev Nuclear Research Center
Negev Nuclear Research Center
The Negev Nuclear Research Center is an Israeli nuclear installation located in the Negev desert, about thirteen kilometers to the south-east of the city of Dimona. The purpose of Dimona is widely assumed to be the manufacturing of nuclear weapons, and the majority of defense experts have...

, a highly secretive nuclear installation located near Dimona
Dimona
Dimona is an Israeli city in the Negev desert, to the south of Beersheba and west of the Dead Sea above the Arava valley in the Southern District of Israel. Its population at the end of 2007 was 33,600.-History:...

.

Delivery mechanisms include Jericho intercontinental ballistic missiles, with a range of 11,500 km, and which are believed to provide a second-strike option. Israel's nuclear-capable ballistic missiles are believed to be buried so far underground that they would survive a nuclear attack. Additionally, Israel is believed to have an offshore nuclear second-strike capability, using submarine launched nuclear-capable cruise missiles, which can be launched from the Israeli Navy's Dolphin-class submarines
Dolphin class submarine
The Type 800 Dolphin class is a diesel-electric submarine developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG , Germany for the Israeli Navy. It is based on the export-only German 209 class submarines, but modified and reduced and is thus not seen as a member of the 209 family...

. Although the Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

 lacks strategic bomber
Strategic bomber
A strategic bomber is a heavy bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of ordnance onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating an enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, which are used in the battle zone to attack troops and military equipment, strategic bombers are...

s to deliver nuclear weapons over long range, its F-15I and F-16I Sufa fighter aircraft are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The Israeli government maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity
Policy of deliberate ambiguity
A policy of deliberate ambiguity is the practice by a country of being intentionally ambiguous on certain aspects of its foreign policy or whether it possesses certain weapons of mass destruction...

 on whether it has nuclear weapons, saying only that it would "not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

." Former International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 Director General Mohamed ElBaradei regarded Israel as a state possessing nuclear weapons. Much of what is known about Israel's nuclear program comes from revelations in 1986 by Mordechai Vanunu
Mordechai Vanunu
Mordechai Vanunu ; is a former Israeli nuclear technician who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and kidnapped by...

, a technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center
Negev Nuclear Research Center
The Negev Nuclear Research Center is an Israeli nuclear installation located in the Negev desert, about thirteen kilometers to the south-east of the city of Dimona. The purpose of Dimona is widely assumed to be the manufacturing of nuclear weapons, and the majority of defense experts have...

 who served an 18-year prison sentence as a result. Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

, but supports establishment of a Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

Chemical weapons


Israel has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention
Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention is an arms control agreement which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. Its full name is the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction...

 (CWC). There are speculations that a chemical weapons program might be located at the Israel Institute for Biological Research
Israel Institute for Biological Research
Israel Institute for Biological Research is a government defense research institute specializing in biology, medicinal chemistry and environmental science, and is suspected of also developing biological and chemical weapons, as well as defenses against them. It is located in Ness Ziona, 20...

 (IIBR) in Ness Ziona
Ness Ziona
Ness Ziona is a city in central Israel founded in 1883. At the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 38,100, and its jurisdiction was 15,579 dunams.-Nahalat Reuben:...

.

190 liters of dimethyl methylphosphonate
Dimethyl methylphosphonate
Dimethyl methylphosphonate, or methylphosphonic acid dimethyl ester , is a colorless liquid with chemical formula 393 or CH3PO2. It is combustible. It emits a distinct odor. It can be found in household radiators, especially those installed in the former Soviet Bloc. In contact with water it...

, a CWC schedule 2 chemical used in the synthesis of Sarin
Sarin
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [2CHO]CH3PF. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687...

 nerve gas, was discovered in the cargo of El Al Flight 1862
El Al Flight 1862
On 4 October 1992, El Al Flight 1862, a Boeing 747 cargo plane of the Israeli airline El Al, crashed into the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in the Bijlmermeer neighbourhood of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For the location in the Bijlmermeer, the crash is known in Dutch as the "Bijlmerramp"...

 after it crashed in 1992 en route to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

. Israel insisted the material was non-toxic, was to have been used to test filters that protect against chemical weapons, and that it had been clearly listed on the cargo manifest in accordance with international regulations. The shipment was from a U.S. chemical plant to the IIBR under a U.S. Department of Commerce
United States Department of Commerce
The United States Department of Commerce is the Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with promoting economic growth. It was originally created as the United States Department of Commerce and Labor on February 14, 1903...

 license.

In 1993, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment
Office of Technology Assessment
The Office of Technology Assessment was an office of the United States Congress from 1972 to 1995. OTA's purpose was to provide Congressional members and committees with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century, i.e. technology...

 WMD proliferation assessment recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared offensive chemical warfare capabilities. Former US deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for chemical and biological defense, Bill Richardson, said in 1998 "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."

Biological weapons


Israel is believed to have developed an offensive biological warfare
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

 capability. The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment
Office of Technology Assessment
The Office of Technology Assessment was an office of the United States Congress from 1972 to 1995. OTA's purpose was to provide Congressional members and committees with objective and authoritative analysis of the complex scientific and technical issues of the late 20th century, i.e. technology...

 records Israel as a country possessing a long-term, undeclared biological warfare
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

 program. Israel is not a signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention
Biological Weapons Convention
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the...

 (BWC). It is assumed that the Israel Institute for Biological Research
Israel Institute for Biological Research
Israel Institute for Biological Research is a government defense research institute specializing in biology, medicinal chemistry and environmental science, and is suspected of also developing biological and chemical weapons, as well as defenses against them. It is located in Ness Ziona, 20...

 in Ness Ziona
Ness Ziona
Ness Ziona is a city in central Israel founded in 1883. At the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 38,100, and its jurisdiction was 15,579 dunams.-Nahalat Reuben:...

 develops vaccines and antidote
Antidote
An antidote is a substance which can counteract a form of poisoning. The term ultimately derives from the Greek αντιδιδοναι antididonai, "given against"....

s for chemical
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 and biological warfare
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

. It has not been possible to conclude whether Israel currently maintains an offensive biological weapons program: it is speculated that Israel's retains an active ability to produce and disseminate biological weapons.

External links