Israel Has 115 Nuclear Warheads, U.S. Research Institute Says

According to a report issued by the Institute for Science and International Security, Israel has amassed between 400 to 915 Kg of fissile material since 1963.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Dimona nuclear reactor - AFP - January 2012
The nuclear reactor near Dimona.Credit: AFP
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

Israel produced 660 Kg of plutonium in its nuclear reactor in Dimona, and used it to make 115 nuclear warheads, which it holds in its arsenal today, a study by the Washington D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) published Friday alleges.

The institute, headed by David Albright, aims at professional analysis and doesn't take an anti-Israeli stance. The report on Israel's nuclear program is a chapter in a series on the civil and military programs of nuclear nations.

According to the institute's researchers, since starting to produce plutonium in its Dimona reactor, in December 1963, Israel has amassed between 400 to 915 Kg of fissile material, with a median of 660 Kg. According to Albright, the assessment is relatively conservative, since in the 1990s one of the former heads of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission told him that plutonium was "harder to produce than many think."

In addition to weapons designed to be dropped from aircraft, according to the report, Israel also holds surface-to-surface and submarine-launched nuclear cruise missiles, each with a warhead of 3 to 5 Kg of plutonium. The total output could be used to make 90 to 290 warheads, with a median of 115.

Other research institutes have put forward other estimates, mostly ranging from 80 to 200 nuclear warheads.