The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) — an international watchdog organization focusing on conflicts, the arms trade and nuclear proliferation — released a new report on Monday that claimed that Israel has nearly a hundred nuclear warheads, more than previously thought.
The SIPRI report described Israel’s nuclear arsenal as follows: 30 gravity bombs capable of delivering nuclear weapons by fighter jets; an additional 50 warheads that can be delivered by land-based ballistic missiles; and an unknown number of nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missiles that would grant Israel a sea-based second-strike capability.
In total, the SIPRI report estimated that Israel possesses between 80 and 90 nuclear weapons, an increase over previous years. SIPRI was unable, however, to confirm those estimates with Israel’s government, which has a long-standing policy of refusing to comment on its nuclear weapons program — a policy it describes as “nuclear ambiguity.”
During a speech last August in front of the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to use nuclear weapons to “wipe out” Israel’s enemies. More recently, Netanyahu and his allies in the U.S. accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, despite the fact that intelligence agencies of both the U.S. and Israel have long recognized that Iran has no such program.
Unsafe, but only for those whose lives don’t matter
Just as the new SIPRI report has again brought scrutiny to Israel’s nuclear program, new information about Israel’s nuclear facility — the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center, which houses the Dimona reactor — has also raised concerns about the facility’s safety.
Late last week, an Israeli court heard arguments that the site had leaked radioactive waste on more than one occasion and that information about those leaks had been hidden from some of the facility’s employees. One of those employees, Faridi Taweel, is suing the facility after learning he had cancer, which he suspects was the result of exposure to leaked radioactive material at the site […]