SIPRI: Israel has close to 100 nuclear warheads
‘Report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says there’s an estimated 13,865 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine states’, Anna Ahronheim, June 17, 2019, jpost.com
I’m going to paste most of the author’s coverage of the report given that the technical information about the different kinds of fissile material used, the delivery systems, the numbers of nukes, etc. can be good to know. What doesn’t seem to be covered, and may not be knowable, is the yield of any of these nukes: blast radius, ‘equaling X tons of TNT’, and so on. My ignorance on the subject is almost total.
But feel free to jump down to Whitney Webb’s exposé below the dotted line if the following is all too much information.
“While Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal, according to the report there are approximately 30 that are gravity bombs, which can be delivered by fighter jets – some of which are believed to be equipped for nuclear weapon delivery – and approximately 50 warheads that can be delivered by land-based ballistic missiles such as the Jericho III intermediate-range ballistic missile – which, according to foreign reports, has a range of 5,500 km.
The report also mentioned the numerous unconfirmed reports that Israel has modified its fleet of German-built Dolphin class submarines to carry nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, giving it a sea-based second-strike capability.
According to the report, at the start of 2019 there were approximately 13,865 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – of which 3,750 were deployed with operational forces and another estimated 2,000 kept in a state of high operational alert.
Russia and the US collectively account for over 90% of global nuclear weapons, the report found, with 6,500 in Moscow’s arsenal and Washington possessing 6,185 nuclear weapons. The UK was reported to have 200, France 300, Israel between 80 and 90, Pakistan between 150 and 160, India between 130 and 140, China 290 and North Korea between 20 and 30 nuclear weapons.
Iran was reported to be continuing to implement the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and was not mentioned in the report as having any nuclear weapons.
According to the report, the US has 1,750 deployed nuclear warheads and another 4,435 “other warheads,” including operational ones held in storage and retired warheads awaiting dismantling. Russia, by comparison, has 1,600 deployed warheads with 4,900 other warheads; the UK has 120 deployed warheads and France has 280.
The other countries, including Israel, had no deployed nuclear warheads.
[I find that extremely a highly dubious claim.]
The raw material for nuclear weapons is fissile material, either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium.
According to the report, China, France, Russia, the UK and the US have produced both HEU and plutonium for use in their nuclear weapons, while India and Israel have produced mainly plutonium. Pakistan has mainly produced HEU, but it is expanding its ability to produce plutonium. North Korea has produced plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, but may have produced HEU as well.
Despite the high number of nuclear warheads, the report noted that the inventories of the nuclear-armed states continue to decline, due in large part to Russia and the US reducing their arsenals in line with the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) while also making unilateral reductions.
Nevertheless, both countries “have extensive and expensive programs underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems and nuclear weapons production facilities,” the report said.
While the nuclear arsenals of the other seven nuclear-armed states are “considerably smaller,” they all are either developing or deploying new weapons systems or have announced their intention to do so.
The report stated that China is gradually increasing the size and diversifying the composition of its nuclear arsenal, while North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear program as a central element of its national security strategy.
Rivals India and Pakistan are both expanding their military fissile material production capabilities “on a scale that may lead to significant increases in the size of their nuclear weapon inventories over the next decade,” the report said.
The report acknowledged that the availability of reliable information on the status of nuclear arsenals and the capabilities of nuclear-armed countries varies significantly depending on the state.
The 202 comments are…instructive, let’s say. ‘Those Muslim-loving Swedes’, we have more’, we need more!’, etc.
I’d borrowed the coverage above from a link in Whitney Webb’s:
‘Israel’s Secretive Nuclear Facility Leaking as Watchdog Finds Israel Has Nearly 100 Nukes’; Israel is one of only five nations in the world that refuse to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, an international treaty aimed at ending the proliferation of nuclear weapons and achieving global nuclear disarmament, Whitney Webb, mintpressnews.com, June 17, 2019
She first offers a look at the SIPRI Yearbook 2019 Report (24 pg. pdf), then links to the Jerusalem Post coverage.
“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.”
As a result of this “nuclear ambiguity” policy, the actual number of Israeli nuclear weapons is unknown. Some other organizations, such as the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, have estimated that Israel has produced enough weapons-grade plutonium to arm between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads. [She adds this graphic from the SIPRI report; (click for larger, then Go Back)]
“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.”
The exposure of the numerous leaks at the Dimona facility is greatly concerning, especially in light of the revelation just a few years ago that the Dimona reactor is believed, according to a group of Israeli scientists, to have an estimated 1,537 defects. Israel has reportedly refused to consider replacing or fixing the aging nuclear core.
The fact that the site has leaked and is rife with defects should be a major issue for Israelis, as the facility is just 30 miles south of Israel’s capital Tel Aviv. Yet it is the city of Dimona itself that is in the greatest danger, as it is located just eight miles from the highly defective reactor.
[No wonder Bibi moved the capital to Jerusalem…]
“But Dimona is largely populated by Jews from Northern Africa. This minority, referred to as “Black Hebrews” in Israel, is routinely discriminated against by Israel’s government, a recent example of which was the revelation of a covert Israeli government program of forcibly sterilizing African Jewish immigrants.
In addition to its large population of African Jews, Dimona and the surrounding Negev Desert are home to several Palestinian Bedouin villages, villages that are frequently labeled as “illegal” and demolished by Israel’s government. The fact that there is no political will or effort to clean up the site or prevent future leaks, coupled with the fact that the most at-risk populations are minorities frequently discriminated against by Israel’s government, reveals yet another troubling and overlooked aspect of Israel’s secretive nuclear program.”
File under ‘Lord luv a duck’: ‘A winnable nuclear war? New Pentagon document shows US military thinks so’, 19 Jun, 2019, RT.com
“The Pentagon document laying out the US doctrine of nuclear operations was publicly available for about a week, then made ‘official use only.’ What’s inside is a chilling reminder that Washington sees nuclear war as winnable.
“Nuclear Operations,” or Joint Publication 3-72, was dated on June 11 and made private since, but not before it was downloaded by Steven Aftergood, an activist at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). It is currently available on the FAS website as a PDF.
The publication “provides fundamental principles and guidance to plan, execute, and assess nuclear operations.” The rest of it is in the same matter-of-fact tone, even when discussing practical consideration of potentially world-ending weapons.
“That kind of thinking itself can be hazardous. It can make that sort of eventuality more likely instead of deterring it,” Aftergood told the Guardian on Wednesday.
The Trump administration has paid a lot of attention to nuclear matters, updating the US Nuclear Posture Review last year and earmarking funds for modernizing the US “nuclear triad”: bombers, land-based missiles and submarines. However, Trump has also announced the US would leave the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia by next month. The fate of the New START arms control treaty with Russia, set to expire in February 2021, is very much up in the air.
In such circumstances, the Joint Chiefs doctrine stating that “Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability,” might be taken as a cause for alarm, and with good reason.
The document also describes nuclear bombers as offering “the greatest degree of flexibility in the triad because they can be a highly visible sign of resolve and, once ordered to conduct a nuclear strike, are recallable.” It’s a dry, factual statement, but when coupled with the presence of B-52 strategic bombers on Russian borders earlier this week, it begins to sound like a threat.”
Why was it public for a week, then made private? Just a strategic leak by way of an object lesson?
there’s no such a thing as a winnable war
it’s a lie we don’t believe any more…
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)