According to Wikipedia's page on Israel and weapons of mass destructioni:

Israel is widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction, and to be one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment has recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared chemical warfare capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare program. Officially Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing 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. 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 range. Israel is also reported to possess a wide range of different systems, including neutron bombs, tactical nuclear weapons, and suitcase nukes. Israel is believed to manufacture its nuclear weapons at the Negev Nuclear Research Center.

The Israeli government maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity on whether it has nuclear weapons, saying only that it would "not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East." Former International Atomic Energy Agency 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, a technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center who served an 18-year prison sentence as a result. Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but supports establishment of a Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

It puzzles me that there is no concern in the world over whether Israel has nuclear weapons or not.

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    What about those citations is insufficient? The wikipedia article seems to have provided you with a good deal of evidence, and I'm not sure what more I could add.
    – Publius
    May 8, 2013 at 11:52
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    We had very little evidence to suggest Iraq had nuclear weapons, but that's a rather different discussion. Having nuclear weapons does not make a country bad or unworthy of protection. The problem arises with the concern that the country may use those nuclear weapons offensively. Israel has rather strict criteria in place before it uses its nuclear weapons, and so we don't have to worry about them.
    – Publius
    May 8, 2013 at 12:01
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    It may justify only countries which are protecting of Israel or America in Iraq war which after a period of time it made an scandal for America that there was no mass destruction weapon in Iraq! these kinds of reasoning are not acceptable in a world which the result of it may cause many innocent victims in Iraq and may be at future in Iran. It is dirty politics not justice and humanity. However I agree with you that this is off topic. Question is about something else so I suggest to come back to the question. May 8, 2013 at 12:05
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    Well the thing is, I think you answered your own question pretty well with the wikipedia article. Also, we have substantially more evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons than Iraq, so let's not think of the two situations as similar. With Iraq we had aluminum tubes. With Iran, we know they've enriched uranium to fissile levels, they've run nuclear simulations, they're attempting to fit their shahab-3 missiles with a nuclear payload, they've created atomic detonators, etc.
    – Publius
    May 8, 2013 at 12:07
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    "It puzzles me that there is no concern in the world over whether Israel has nuclear weapons or not." -- Is there really "no concern"? Sep 19, 2013 at 19:00

3 Answers 3


Yes, Israel has been known to have nuclear capability since the late 1960s.

As recently declassified documents show, they've reached secret agreement with US administration, which'd turn the blind eye. On the other hand Israel would maintain it's policy of deliberate ambiguity.

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 189

Israel Crosses the Threshold

Senior Nixon Administration Officials Considered Confronting Israel over Nuclear Weapons in 1969 but President Nixon Declined, Deciding that Washington Could Live with an Undeclared Israeli Bomb, According to Newly Declassified Documents and a Study in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Posted Today

Washington, DC, April 28, 2006 - Today the National Security Archive publishes for the first time 30 recently declassified U.S. government documents disclosing the existence of a highly secret policy debate, during the first year of the Nixon administration, over the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Broadly speaking, the debate was over whether it was feasible--either politically or technically--for the Nixon administration to try to prevent Israel from crossing the nuclear threshold, or whether the U.S. should find some "ground rules" which would allow it to live with a nuclear Israel. The documents published by the Archive are the primary sources for an article by Avner Cohen and William Burr, "Israel crosses the threshold," that appears in the May-June 2006 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. [...]

Among the key findings in the article:

  • 1969 was a turning point in the U.S.-Israeli nuclear relationship. Israel already had a nuclear device by 1967, but it was not until 1968-1969 that U.S. officials concluded that an Israeli bomb was about to become a physical and political reality. U.S. government officials believed that Israel was reaching a state "whereby all the components for a weapon are at hand, awaiting only final assembly and testing."


  • By 1975, in keeping with the understanding with Israel, the State Department refused to tell Congress that it was certain that Israel had the bomb, even though U.S. intelligence was convinced that it did.
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    Just a giant block quote. Add some text of your own with simple and easy to read explanations.
    – Wertilq
    May 8, 2013 at 14:21
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    While a great find from historical point of view, one must note that the document is proof that US Government believed that Israel has nuclear weapons, NOT a proof that Israel has nuclear weapons (a seemingly minor semantic distinction that Saddam Hussein found out to be of paramount importance in 2000s).
    – user5341
    May 8, 2013 at 16:18
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    @DVK: did US ever believe Iraq had ready to use nuclear weapons? AFAIK there were only indicators that they might have started working on them. OTOH, official reason for the invasion were WMDs, but that was mainly about chemical weapons (coincidentally, US arms dealers were ones selling rockets and artillery shells for chemical weapons delivery during Iraq-Iran war).
    – vartec
    May 8, 2013 at 16:23
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    @vartec - correct. I was pointing out the relationship of "US govt believes" and "Proven Reality", not equivalence between the state of readiness of weapons.
    – user5341
    May 8, 2013 at 16:25
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    @Andrew both actually
    – vartec
    May 9, 2013 at 7:50

It's officially unknown.

Here is what is known to be true for sure (those, and only those, are the facts):

  • Israel has two atomic reactors, one in Soreq, near the city of Yavne, and one in the Negev, near the city of Dimona. (Wiki articles for both: Soreq, Negev (AKA Dimona))
  • The one in Sorek is open to visits, and will be closed by 2018. While the Negev reactor is highly classified and guarded by various means, the airspace above it is a no fly zone, and during the 6-days war, an Israeli fighter plane that accidentally entered that airspace was shot down
  • According to Israel, the nuclear reactors are used for science, education and disposal of radioactive materials. (See links in the first bullet).
  • The Israel government, or any official body, have never officially confirmed nor denied Israel's Nuclear capabilities. This policy even has a special name in Hebrew "עמימות גרעינית" or "Nuclear Ambiguity".

  • No other government (which isn't in war with Israel) has ever publicly and oficialy acknowledged that Israel has Nuclear weapons.

  • During an interview to a German TV station in 2006 Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister at the time said:

    they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel and Russia?

    This, however, is not a full official acknowledgment. At the same interview Olmert said twice that Israel never claimed to have Nuclear Weapons, and on the next day said that there is no change in Israel's ambiguity policy, and that Israel will not be the first to introduce Nuclear weapons to the area.

There is a lot of speculation on the matter, most of it is presented very well in the wiki page that the question cites (this), and in the wiki about Israel's nuclear weapons

Why is Iran under sanctions while Israel gets a free pass?

Obviously, there is a lot more evidence for supposed Israeli nuclear capabilities than there are for Iran. Yet Iran is under international sanctions because of this suspicion and Israel isn't.

The difference is that Israel together with India ,Pakistan and South Sudan are the only nations in the world that have not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (North Korea has signed but later withdrawn from it) which says that only the U.S., USSR (now-days The Russian Federation), France, Britain and China will have nuclear weapons and will not proliferate them. Iran, unlike Israel, Pakistan and India has signed the treaty, which means that it has agreed to use Nuclear Energy only in a peaceful manner.

That is the difference between Iran and Israel, Pakistan and India, countries which are in a constant state of war for more than 60 years and have either admitted to have Nuclear weapons, or are suspecting of having them, but have never made a public obligation to not have them.

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    Some part of your answer are off topic and only your own ideas. May 8, 2013 at 14:26
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    If South Sudan would suddenly try to build nuclear weapons the world community would probably condem it and threaten it with sanctions. The reason why Israel is treated differently are completely political.
    – Christian
    May 8, 2013 at 18:22
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    @Christian - the reason is that there are plausible concerns that any weapons of mass destruction posessed by Sudan would become accessible - either by deliberate transfer or by accidentall loss - to terrorist groups willing to use them. There is no such concern about Israel since it's not known for either being a potential failed state nor a state likely to transfer WMDs to terrorist groups. If Denmark decides to build nuclear weapons, it would be treated similarly to Israel.
    – user5341
    May 8, 2013 at 18:31
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    @PersianCat, what parts?
    – SIMEL
    May 8, 2013 at 19:13
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    @DVK : From the perspective of the US I think it makes sense to call countries that get a over a billion of US dollar in a year in military aid as US allies. It certainly doesn't make sense to create embargoes while you try to buy someone's good will with military aid.
    – Christian
    May 10, 2013 at 10:46

Article in The Times of Israel

well, if a senior IDFAF officer states it, I'd seriously consider it to be true :) (never mind the standard anti Semitic rants in the comments section to the article)

Now, Israel has always had an official policy to neither confirm nor deny the existence of nuclear weapons in their arsenal, so unless they actually use one there's no way to ever be certain. But they are known to have the capability to produce them (the technology, reactors, etc.) and certainly a clear incentive, being surrounded by hostile nations (including at a distance Iran) who would like nothing better than to wipe out the Jewish state and its population, several of which countries are known or strongly suspected of having extensive stockpiles of chemical weapons and/or to be working on their own nuclear weapons (like Iran).

History Of Nuclear Weapons - Israel has a timeline and some estimates.

Of course with so much about Israel on the web being seriously questionable because of the anti-Israeli and anti Semitic propaganda which is so rampant, it's very hard to get objective data (a Google search found mostly sources that were little more than rants about "evil Jews wanting to destroy the world" and such, one source even claimed even Israel has used nuclear in combat against civilians, clearly bogus but makes for great propaganda if your audience are illiterate peasants in Syria or Iran).

The Britannica lists the existence as fact, and can usually be relied on.

As to it being no concern, remember that Israel is a peaceful nation that doesn't threaten its neighbors, employs its armed forces only in self defense, and even then uses great restraint to prevent civilian casualties where possible. They have also publicly stated they will not be the first to use weapons of mass destruction in the region, though you might take that as being meaningless as within the larger region chemical weapons have already been used in prolific amounts albeit not against Israel.

The main concern therefore becomes ensuring that Israel never comes into a situation where they have to choose between using nuclear weapons or being destroyed themselves, exactly the reason why Israel has a nuclear arsenal in the first place.

  • This answer contains a lot of irrelevance. I'd trim it down to mostly just the citations.
    – Publius
    May 8, 2013 at 12:12
  • it doesn't, without the background the information in the citations is meaningless in the context of the question.
    – jwenting
    May 8, 2013 at 12:47
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    a. It's not "IDFAF", it's "IAF". b. Dan Halutz was the Chief of Staff of the IDF, not just a senior IAF officer. c. He doesn't say that Israel has Nuclear capabilities in that article, he is stating his opinion that the Iranian Reactor will could not be hurt by conventional bombs, he's implying it at the most. d. Everything written after the first sentence is irrelevant.
    – SIMEL
    May 8, 2013 at 12:54
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    This post require LOTS of more work. To talky, not using quotes, too much wall of text.
    – Wertilq
    May 8, 2013 at 14:10
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    I'd love to see a reference that Israel is peaceful, doesn't threaten its neighbours, etc. It reads as exactly the type of propaganda it warns against,
    – Oddthinking
    May 8, 2013 at 15:37

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