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Israel is modernizing alleged nuclear weapons, upgrading Dimona reactor

SIPRI Research Center includes Israel as ‘known nuclear power’ in its annual report

View of the nuclear reactor in Dimona in southern Israel, Aug. 13, 2016. (Photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Amid the current multi-front war Israel finds itself in, the Jewish state has been working to modernize its nuclear weapons systems as well as its alleged nuclear reactor in Dimona, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Despite Israel’s long-standing policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither denying nor affirming such capabilities, the security think tank examined Israel’s capabilities as part of a group of nine known nuclear powers, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

The process of modernizing a nuclear weapons arsenal allegedly doesn’t necessarily indicate a desire to use them, as many of the required delivery systems degrade over time and have to be replaced.

In addition, SIPRI claimed Israel was working to upgrade its plutonium production reactor site in the city of Dimona in the Negev Desert.

The institute believes Israel has an arsenal of approximately 80 nuclear weapons.

“Of these, approximately 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft,” SIPRI wrote on its website.

“The remaining 50 weapons are for delivery by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles, which are believed to be based with their mobile launchers in caves at a military base east of Jerusalem. The operational status of a new Jericho III intermediate-range ballistic missile is unknown. In 2013 Israel conducted a launching test of a ‘rocket propulsion system’, which appeared to be for a Jericho III missile.”

SIPRI also indicated that Israel’s five Dolphin-class submarines could have nuclear capabilities, giving Israel the potential to launch nuclear strikes from air, land, and even sea.

The latest SIPRI annual report pointed to increased nuclear dangers in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine War, as well as the progress of the Iranian regime's nuclear program.

“We have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since the cold war,” said Wilfred Wan, director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.

“It is hard to believe that barely two years have passed since the leaders of the five largest nuclear-armed states jointly reaffirmed that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” he said.

The report stated that the start of the war with Hamas last October abruptly stopped diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the U.S., increasing the danger of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

SIPRI estimates that 9,585 of the 12,121 nuclear warheads worldwide are actively deployed by military forces and ready for potential use.

Around 2,100 of them are considered operational for ballistic missiles, most being held by Russia and the United States. China has been drastically enhancing its nuclear readiness, with estimates suggesting it possesses up to 500 warheads, an increase from 410 within a year.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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