Israel with nuclear weapons is at war

Image: Denis Trushtin


Israeli nuclear weapons pose a particular risk to peace and security in the Middle East region and internationally

The attack on Yemen by the US, UK and other forces is a dangerous escalation of the war in the Middle East. The attack aims to deter Houthi support for the people of Gaza, which took the form of attacks on ships bound for Israel. But as the Houthis have made clear, the attacks will not end their support for the Palestinians.

The only way to stop this unfolding and intensifying conflict in the Middle East is to put an end to the war in Gaza: implement an immediate and permanent ceasefire and guarantee the freedom and sovereignty of Palestine, as enshrined in UN resolutions and in international law.

The alternative to this course of action is the spread of war, to Yemen, Lebanon and even Iran. This is the most dangerous time in more than two decades in the Middle East and clearly raises the specter of the use of nuclear weapons .

Because not only is Israel heavily armed with the most modern conventional weaponry, it is also heavily armed with nuclear weapons. Its nuclear arsenal, which it refuses to formally recognize – its policy of “nuclear ambiguity” – is not under international controls or inspections. However, it has an enormous killing capacity – and Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East.

Recent rhetoric from several Israeli politicians suggests a willingness to use their nuclear weapons; If the conflict extended to Iran, who could say that Israel would not use its nuclear weapons on non-nuclear Iran?

So, what is the status of the Israeli nuclear arsenal? Israel's lack of transparency means the numbers are uncertain, but the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) outlines estimates of between 90 and 300 nuclear weapons. Sipri also reports that since 2021, according to commercial satellite imagery, there has been significant construction taking place at the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona in southern Israel.

Some may remember that the great Israeli nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, worked as a technician in Dimona, before revealing details of Israel's secret nuclear program to the British press in 1986. The purpose of the recent work is not known.

Information from Sipri indicates that Israel has air, land and sea delivery systems for its nuclear arsenal. The bombs can be dropped from planes, either the F-161 or the F-15, and will likely be stored near air force bases such as Tel Nof air base in central Israel or Hatzerim air base, in the Negev desert.

Reportedly, when Israel sent six F-16s from Tel Nof to the UK for an exercise in 2019, a US official referred to it as Israel's “nuclear squadron”.

Israel's nuclear weapons can also be launched on land-based Jericho ballistic missiles. The location of these missiles is believed to be the Sdot Micha air base near Zekharia, about 25 kilometers west of Jerusalem. And Israel also operates five German-built Dolphin-class diesel-electric submarines, which operate from the port of Haifa on the Mediterranean coast. Some or all of these submarines may have been equipped to launch a nuclear-armed cruise missile.

Either way, it is a formidable array of weapons of mass destruction and gives Israel the ability to inflict catastrophic damage on its neighbors. Of course, the impact on Israel of any regional use would also be considerable, but there is absolutely no guarantee that would dissuade an Israeli government from using nuclear if it considers its existence to be under threat.

It is also unknown how such a threat would be defined. The fact is that the possession of nuclear weapons allows Israel to act with impunity, in Gaza and throughout the region. And this possession is also impacting how others are willing to relate to Israel

The questions posed in a recent issue of New Left Review are highly relevant: “Is the US, blackmailed by the threat of a Middle Eastern Armageddon, now forced to allow Israel to seek 'victory' at any price? Does Israel’s nuclear war capability give the Israeli radical right a sense of invincibility, as well as a confidence that they can dictate the terms of peace with or without the Americans, and certainly without the Palestinians?”

And what can be done about it? Both the US and Britain helped Israel develop its nuclear weapons, against all international law. In 2005, it was revealed from Whitehall documents discovered in the National Archives, by BBC Newsnight investigators, that the UK had secretly supplied the 20 tonnes of heavy water to Israel almost half a century earlier, which enabled it to make nuclear weapons.

Britain has been aware of Israel's nuclear arsenal for decades, clearly supporting and tolerating it, while adopting an indignant and aggressive approach to the possibility of nuclear proliferation by other countries. The double standards and hypocrisy demonstrated by successive British governments are deplorable and must be absolutely condemned.

The United Kingdom has supported numerous UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions calling for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East, without assuming its role in Israeli nuclear proliferation.

Israeli nuclear weapons pose a particular risk to peace and security in the Middle East region and internationally; It is not surprising that they are seen as a significant threat by neighboring non-nuclear states, and the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza and the prolongation of the war is exactly the situation in which they are likely to be used.

There are few clearer examples of how nuclear weapons are, in fact, weapons of terror and weapons of impunity, in addition to being weapons of massacre and mass destruction. The war in Gaza must end; it must end with a ceasefire and with peace and justice for the Palestinians. And it must end, to stop the unthinkable risk of a nuclear war in the Middle East.

*Kate Hudson is general secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (NDA).

Translated by Eleutério Prado.

Published counter punch (This article appeared for the first time No. The  HYPERLINK “”Morning HYPERLINK “” Star and in the magazine CND, Campaign)

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