Weapon of last resort

Weapon of last resort
Being in aggressive environments, Israel will never give up its own nuclear Blade

Viktor Esin

Perhaps no other topic about Israel not so wrapped fog of mystery and innuendo, as a matter of having a nuclear weapon this state, which remains outside the scope of the Contract on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear weapons (NPT) was opened for signature in 1968. In their own statements, Israeli officials have never confirmed nor deny the presence of Israel’s nuclear weapons, and information about its nuclear weapons and plans for their implementation remains closed likely not officially recognized and isolated from other events inside the country.

At the same time the vast majority of professionals in international society are convinced that Israel has a nuclear weapon. Enron someone doubts were dispelled entirely October 5, 1986, when the newspaper The Sunday Times of London was taken by a former employee interviews Israeli nuclear research center in Dimona, Mordechai Vanunu, in which he spoke about the creation of a nuclear weapons program there in Israel, accompanied the interview photo made it on the ground at Dimona nuclear center.

This article highlights the nuances related to nuclear programs from Israel, its nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy.

Nuclear programm

Start nuclear programmke given Israel in 1952, was created when the Atomic Energy Commission, headed by Ernst David Bergmann, special in the field of organic chemistry (he is considered the «father» of the Israeli nuclear applets). In the formation and development of the programs from the huge role played by scientific and technical cooperation between Israel and countries friendly to him. On a larger scale, it was carried to France and the United States.

» Israel controlled the political decision to develop nuclear weapons was adopted in 1955 «
Particularly closely in the development of nuclear weapons Israel cooperated with France. In 1950-1960 spetsy Israel participated in the program of creation of the French nuclear bomb and the Israeli side were transferred to the data acquired in the course of 1960-1964 in France’s nuclear tests in the Sahara desert. In addition, France has promoted Israel make the industrial base to produce weapons-grade plutonium. According to a secret Franco-Israeli agreement signed in 1956, the French built in Dimona (Negev desert, 120 km south-east of the town of Tel Aviv) heavy water reactor IRR-2 natural uranium initial 26 MW e. This reactor was commissioned in 1963 and modernized in the 70s: the evaluation of its electronic power increased to 75-150 MW. As a consequence of the properties of plutonium weapons could increase from 7-8 to 20-40 kg per year.

Since the physical launch of the reactor IRR-2, Israel made a fundamental step in the implementation of its own military nuclear applets. Formed around this reactor atomic Research Centre Negev (Negev Nuclear Research Center — NNRC), where major works are carried out on the production of fissile materials and products from them for nuclear weapons. In this atomic center, whose objects are placed mostly underground, except IRR-2 reactor are industrial radiochemical plant for the separation of plutonium from irradiated reactor fuel, the company for cleaning and processing of uranium ore, experienced a cascade of gas centrifuges for uranium isotope separation, the factory settings producing iron uranium and plutonium as fuel (fuel rods) for nuclear reactors, complex producing the heavy water (tritium), lithium-6 and lithium deuteride, a number of research laboratories, including laser enrichment of uranium and the magnetic isotope separation method uranium.

There are various expert estimates of the amount produced in Israel weapons-grade plutonium. From their data more credible international Stockholm Institute research problems of the world (SIPRI), according to which as of 2011 in Israel could have produced 690-950 kg of weapons-grade plutonium. At the same time, according to SIPRI, the creation of weapons-grade plutonium in the country to this day lasts, which indirectly indicates the intention to increase the Tel Aviv Israeli nuclear capabilities.

Relative supplies of uranium in Israel, they are evaluated sufficient for their own needs. Already in 1972, the country did not need zabugornyh supplies of raw uranium, as the industry producing phosphate fertilizer once a year could be created as a by-product from 40 to 50 tons of uranium oxide, which is two times higher than the one-year requirement IRR-2 reactor . By the early 90s the creation of uranium oxide in Israel was brought up to 100 tons per year.

Coupled with the fact, according to SIPRI, in the current time in Israel there is no industrial production of highly enriched uranium (HEU). As follows, there is no creation of nuclear weapons based on HEU. Need the same amount of HEU needed for the production of fuel for light water reactor IRR-1 (it will be discussed below), produced at NNRC, where, as already mentioned, there are appropriate and experienced laboratory setting. It should also be understood that the operation of the reactor to ensure IRR-1 in 1960-1966 U.S. put Israel’s 50 kg of HEU.

Start of US-Israeli cooperation in the nuclear field was laid in 1955. U.S. agreed to build Nahal Sorek (20 km south of Tel Aviv) light water reactor research IRR-1 e-type pool 5 MW, the physical launch of which was carried out in June 1960, also provide training Israeli professionals in government laboratories at Oak Ridge and argon. During 1955-1960 years in these laboratories have been trained 56 Israeli professionals.

IRR-1 reactor due to low power could hardly be used as narabotchika weapons-grade plutonium. At the same time, particularly at the reactor Israeli spetsy gained experience appeals from HEU. Principle and the fact that around the reactor IRR-1 was later built complex of buildings, which are located in the lab and grew Research center, which various studies in the field of nuclear science and technology, including military orientation. Namely, as is implied, particularly in this center are carried out research and design development of nuclear weapons. Assembly plant nuclear weapons lies elsewhere — in Iodefate (130 km north-east of Tel Aviv).

With regard to cooperation with other countries of Israel in the military use of nuclear energy is necessary to emphasize the fact that of fixed working together in 70 years with South Africa and Taiwan. Meanwhile, the cooperation of Israel and South Africa to develop nuclear weapons looks more than indicative. Back in 1977 the magazine Newsweek, referring to a number of professionals from the world of South American intelligence community, openly declared that the alleged nuclear bomb South Africa is an Israeli nuclear device. September 22, 1979 exactly at 1.00 GMT sensors on board the South American satellite VELA 6911 recorded two flashes of light in the Indian Ocean near the Prince Edward Islands, which belong to South Africa. The most obvious explanation is that the nuclear tests were held. List of suspects in their conduct rapidly narrowed down to South Africa and Israel.

Israel controlled the political decision to develop nuclear weapons was adopted in 1955, and thus became the programm forcefully develop so called after the Suez crisis in the autumn of 1956. By this Tel Aviv then pushed the threat of introduction of nuclear weapons against Israel, which has sounded in his speech the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Nikolai Bulganin.

According to the Institute of Strategic Stability (ISS) of Rosatom, the first Israeli nuclear weapons would have been made in 1967-1968, and the South American Research Center for Global Security argues that even during the so-called Six Day War in 1967, Israel has had with 2 atomic bombs .

Since that time, the creation of nuclear weapons in Israel in continuous build up, and their range expanded: to previously produced atomic bombs capacity of 20 kilotons added nuclear warheads of the same capacity.

Available expert estimates nuclear arsenal of Israel lie in a wide range. So, in SIPRI said that the Israelis possess about 80 nuclear warheads collected: 50 warheads for missiles and bombs for 30 aircraft. In ISS Rosatom imply that total in the nuclear arsenal of the country are available from 130 to 200 munitions. There and more than maximalist estimates that by the end of the 90s Israel had 400 munitions, including bombs, warheads for ballistic missiles, shells mnogokalibernyh artillery systems and mines.

It appears that the criteria of the uncertainty with regard to the nuclear arsenal of Israel over his reasoned assessment may be one that is based on calculations by the use of clusters in the country supplies weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons production.

It is recognized that for the production of 1st nuclear charge quite 5 kg of weapons-grade plutonium. Starting from this premise, just calculate that using all available in Israel for 2011 supplies of weapons grade plutonium (690-950 kg) could be produced 138-190 nuclear warheads.

In reality, unlikely to produce nuclear weapons in Israel were spent all available supplies of weapons-grade plutonium. It can be assumed by analogy with that of other non-recognized de jure nuclear weapon states that up to a quarter of their own supplies of weapons grade plutonium Tel Aviv left in reserve for unexpected needs. Based on this the beginning of 2012 in Israel’s nuclear arsenal could total from 100 to 140 munitions. Entirely reasonable that their nomenclature corresponds to the composition of the Israeli nuclear forces (of them will be discussed below). Coupled with the fact a large modicum of conviction can be argued that Israel has no nuclear artillery shells and nuclear mines. Information on the availability of ammunition he never confirmed.

With this in mind the following conclusion: in Israel created a real research and production base of the nuclear industry, which allows not only to maintain, and increase nuclear capacity. With all this enthusiasm can not be excluded Tel Aviv to develop thermonuclear weapons, but on the way an insurmountable obstacle seen the need for full-scale nuclear testing. Israel in September 1996, signed a contract on vseobyatnom interdict nuclear tests, however, until it has been ratified. And because it is unlikely that Tel Aviv will venture on nuclear testing without the latest needs.

Nuclear weapons

Expert analysis of the structure of the Israeli armed forces indicates that the country has nuclear triad, which is based on the dual-purpose carriers, which are tactical aircraft, mobile missile systems and diesel-electric submarines.

Available on the Israel Air Force aircraft as carriers of atomic bombs can be applied tactical fighters F-4, F-15 and F-16 South American production, as stormtroopers A-4, put the U.S., which, however, are now kept in storage mode.

Tactical Fighter F-4 has a range of 1,250 km (without refueling). Its maximum speed — 2350 km per hour (at an altitude of 12,000 meters), and practical ceiling — 21 thousand meters. He is able to carry a nuclear bomb.

Tactical Fighter F-15 (F-15I in the version modified in Israel) has a combat radius of 1,650 km act (without refueling). Its maximum speed — 2650 km per hour (at an altitude of 11,000 meters), and practical ceiling — 18 thousand meters. He is able to carry a nuclear bomb.

Tactical Fighter F-16 (F-16I in the version modified in Israel) has a combat radius of 1,500 km act (without refueling). Its maximum speed — 2100 km per hour (at an altitude of 11,000 meters), and practical ceiling — 18 thousand meters. He is able to carry a nuclear bomb.

Assault A-4 has a range of 1,200 km (without refueling). Its maximum speed — 1000 km per hour (at an altitude of 5700 meters), a service ceiling — 10,500 meters. He is able to carry a nuclear bomb.

Of the total fleet of tactical fighter F-4, F-15 and F-16, which have the Israeli Air Force, for a nuclear role certified general difficulty from 40 to 50 aircraft. Number of certified under nuclear attack aircraft puzzles A-4 does not exceed 8-10 units.

First, in 2012 it was reported that the Israeli tactical fighter version F-15I and F-16I can be armed with nuclear cruise missiles Popey «air-to-ground.» If this information is true, then the fighting ability of the air component of the nuclear triad of Israel have increased significantly since the range of the missile launch Popey can exceed 1000 km.

Except aircraft, the Air Force of Israel in mobile missile complexes are solid ballistic missiles Jericho I and Jericho II, which can be equipped with multiple warheads in the ordinary and nuclear warheads.

Single-stage ballistic missile lowest range (BRMD) Jericho I entered service in 1972. Its development took an active role missile-French company Marcel Dassault. This missile has a launch weight of 6.7 tons and has a range of up to 500 km, with a head of about 1000 kg. Accuracy (radial deviation possible) — about 500 meters.

The two-stage medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) Jericho II entered service in 2002. It has a launch weight of about 14 tons and has a range of 1,500-1,800 km, with a head of 750-1000 kg. Accuracy (radial deviation possible) — 800 meters.

Assessment, often in the Israeli Air Force has 150 BRMD Jericho I and from 50 to 90 BRSD Jericho II. The number of mobile launchers for these missiles can be 30-40 units (18-24 for Jericho I missiles and rockets for 12-16 Jericho II). In peacetime, these criteria launchers are not deployed, they are located in specially equipped underground facilities for missile base «Kfar Zechariah» (38 km south of Tel Aviv).

As for promising developments overpriced range ballistic missiles, in Israel conducted developmental work to create a three-stage solid-fuel missile Jericho III. Its first flight test conducted in 2008, and the second — in November 2011. Firing range of the missile can exceed 4000 km, with a head of 1000-1300 kg. Adopting Jericho III missile is expected in 2015-2016.

As a potential long-range delivery systems may be considered a booster of cosmic Shavit. This three-stage solid rocket created with the introduction of American technology. With its help, the Israelis withdrew into low Earth orbit 5 of cosmic vehicles weighing about 150 kg each (in September 1988, April 1990, April 1995, May 2002 and June of 2007). Three launches of cosmic apparatus, held in September 1994, January 1998 and September 2004, were poor.

How to find experts at the State Laboratory Lawrence (city Livermore, USA), Shavit booster can be relatively easy to change into a combat missile capable of delivering a payload of 500 kg to a distance of 7800 km. But consider this booster as an effective means of delivering a nuclear weapon is unlikely to be (it is located on a massive ground and starting device has a very significant amount of time to prepare for launch.) Together with those constructive and technological solutions achieved in the development of booster Shavit, can be fully applied in the development of military missiles with a range of 5,000 km or more.

Testing and combat training launches of ballistic missiles and combat launch of cosmic vehicles into orbit with Israel produces missile test site Palmach placed 22 kilometers southwest of Tel Aviv. In addition to carrying out the test and combat training launches of ballistic missiles used martial towed offshore platform, which is located in the Mediterranean Sea.

Marine component of the nuclear triad of the country consists of diesel-electric submarines of the German Dolphin-class production with cruise missiles that can be equipped with multiple warheads in the ordinary and nuclear warheads.

In the battle of the Israeli navy has three submarines class Dolphin, which were delivered from Germany in 1998-1999 and retrofitted with the installation of missile (10 on each boat launch canisters for launching cruise missiles from under water). Reliable data on the type of cruise missiles, which are armed with these boats, no. According to some sources, the Israelis are the modernized South American cruise missiles with a range of Sub Harpoon run up to 600 km, on the other — his Israeli missile development Popey Turbo, made on the basis of a cruise missile Popey «air-to-ground.» Range rocket launch Popey Turbo can reach 1,500 km.

In 2011-2012, Germany supplied Israel two more class submarines Dolphin, who after their retrofit missile-test cycle is completed before entering the combat strength of the Navy (about this event can be held in late 2013th).

In the current time in Germany at the shipyard Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG near the town of Kiel under construction second Dolphin class submarine to Israel. The government of Germany in 2011 approved a grant in the amount of 135 million euros — one third of the full price — for the purchase of Tel Aviv this boat. Transfer of Israel is likely in 2014.

Conclusion: Israel now has a wide range of non-strategic nuclear weapons delivery vehicles and decent by regional standards nuclear arsenal. In capacity building nuclear accent is made on the development of the marine component of the nuclear forces, which has a superior survivability. It is considered very crucial for Israel, because it is very vulnerable to attack using weapons of mass destruction (small size affects areas of the country).

Nuclear strategy

The presence of nuclear forces in Israel suggests that it exists and nuclear strategy. However, it never was declared. Coupled with the fact analysis of Israeli officials made statements lets imagine that this strategy is based on the following main principles:

Israel’s nuclear arsenal is first to deter potential enemies. It seems natural that the big geopolitical and demographic (and potentially military) dignity surrounding Israel Arab and Muslim countries in general are considered in Tel Aviv as an imperative of its reliance on nuclear weapons, which is a guarantee of safety;
nuclear weapon is considered Tel Aviv as a weapon of last resort. It can be used in the first case of an armed attack on the country, if a risk is the very existence of Israel as a country;
in the case of a nuclear strike on Israel (or blow with the introduction of other types of weapons of mass destruction) «survivor» of the last nuclear arsenal will not hesitate to use against an aggressor;
without a fundamental configuration of the military-strategic situation in the region (and the world) at the official level, Israel will continue its policy of silence about its holdings of nuclear weapons. It seems that this policy has a certain military and political life, to lose that Tel Aviv is not going;
Israel decides to make every effort to prevent the creation of a real ability of nuclear weapons possible adversary. If all this does not exclude the introduction of means of force action, even if they violated the norms of international law.
In fact now and for the foreseeable future in Tel Aviv has no incentive to abandon nuclear weapons, as it is in aggressive environments. Peace treaty with Israel concluded only two countries Near East — Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Other countries in the region so far not recognized the sovereignty of Israel, and some of them, namely Iran, denied him the right to exist as a country.

On the basis of the spoken «anonymous» Israeli nuclear arsenal in the foreseeable future will remain an important component of the military-strategic balance in the Middle East, significant bone of contention Tel Aviv relations with other states in the region and prospects naikrupneyshim factor for the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and other regions.

Viktor Esin,
Candidate of Military Sciences, Doctor of the Academy of Military Sciences, General retired colonel

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