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The History of the Israeli Nuclear Bomb

Updated on March 23, 2012
Iranian test missiles-imagine if THEY had the bomb!
Iranian test missiles-imagine if THEY had the bomb!
One Israeli nuclear bomb
One Israeli nuclear bomb
The Dimona Nuclear facility
The Dimona Nuclear facility

There is a myth about the Israeli nuclear bomb and that is that they had it in 1948 or even in the 1950's. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 50's represent a time when France greatly helped and shared nuclear technology with Israel. Many of France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific also had Israeli scientists there. The Israeli reactor was underground at Dimona, in the Negev desert of southern Israel near Beersheba and was jointly finished in 1958. It was known as a textile plant in public and when US spy planes discovered its presence by early 1959, the US demanded explanation. In 1960, France decided to get out of leave it to Israel. The US forced Israel to reveal it as a nuclear plant for peaceful purposes (much like Iran, today). The US demanded inspections and they started twice a year in 1962.

So, the myth that the US always was with Israel and supplied them with nuclear know-how and plutonium is simply propaganda.

However, like Iran today, Israeli hid portions of the Dimona facility from US inspectors that were used to create the bomb. Israel, in 1965, obtained 200 lbs of highly enriched uranium from a plant in Pennsylvania in a covert manner, unknown to US authorities. While the Dimona facility was in operation, the French did not complete the secret underground facility where plutonium woul dbe processed until the same year. Security at Dimona is strict. In the past, the IDF have shot down civilian aircraft entering the air space over it. France halted sending uranium to Israeli in 1967 and with covert help from Germany, obtained 200 lbs. of "yellow cake".

Israel got most of its uranium from South Africa in the late sixties and by 1967 had its first small nuclear bomb. In the Fall of 1969, it was the US that supplied Israel with nuclear capable delivery systems on the F4E. Now, Israel could fly their tactical nuclear weapons, though few in number. Starting in 1968, Israel was producing 3-5 bombs a year. On the night of October 8, 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, the Israelis assembled 13 twenty-kiloton atomic bombs and were to be used dropped from F-4Es, should the situation continue to get worse. The F-4s were at Tel Nof. Damascus, Syria was among the targets. Luckily, the war changed in Israeli's favor and this never happened.

After 1973, Israel developed the capacity to fire nuclear shells from their long range artillery guns. In 1979, Israel tested its neutron bomb in the South Pacific with South Africa. By 1988, Israel had developed nuclear armed rockets with a range of 5000 km. These were successfully launched in tests. By 1985, Israel had 200 nuclear bombs in its stockpile. By 2000, around 400.

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    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 

      6 years ago

      You are right when you say it is a fundamentalists level, and yes they all trace back to Abraham(Ibrahim), which unfortunatley brings us around to religious intolerance. I also here that there is this ongoing arguement about who has the right to be in charge of Jerusalem.

      In the end, I still do not agree with a country in a region that is such a boiling-pot having a nuclear arsenal, whether it is a deterrent or not.

    • profile image

      Jayfort 

      6 years ago

      Claire, I spent some time in Saudi Arabia and believe me when I say this, the average, individual Muslim may not hate the Jews but the overall Muslim attitude, perhaps at the mullah level is to wipe the Jews and Israel from the map. Israel has not started wars with the Muslims and would live in peace with them if they would be left alone. Maybe the intense hatred is found in the more fundamentalist-focused names like SA, Iran, etc...

      What's funny is, if you trace their heritage back far enough, you come to a man named Abraham (modern acknowledgment of the name) and his two sons, one by his wife and one by his wife's handmaiden. So which son did g-g-g-great (many times removed) grandpa Abraham love more. This is a family feud that has lived on, embroiled an entire region of the world, and had worldwide consequences for thousands of years. At least in the USA, the Hatfields and McCoys finally settled their feud and it only took about a hundred years!

    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 

      6 years ago

      Cost must come into and now seeing knowing what happened in Egypt for one of the countries, I am sure there were certainly not enough funds!! As for Syria, I really do not know, but as it is going through the same kind of political turmoil maybe the President there also put himself and his family and close followers before his people.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR

      perrya 

      6 years ago

      Why don't Arab countries have nukes? This is what happens when you align yourself with the wrong side. Israel and the West have always been aligned.Palestine was British and French, when Israel was created, the French and israel were close friends. It was not until the late 60's that the US became their best friend. Egypt, Syria were Russia's allies, only Egypt tried to get nukes. Russia did not trust them enough to help them. Syria tried to get a nuke via North Korea and Iran. Plus, creating them is very costly.

    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 

      6 years ago

      Actually they don't hate the Jewish people at all...I should know, I am half Jewish and my partner in love is a Muslim and my true home is in Egypt.

      But they do hate what has happened to the Palestinians and the Israeli government and they do differentiate between the goverment and the people. Believe me ,I have had the conversation with quite a few since I moved to Egypt, and believe me when I say I have been always treated with respect and love and have a number of very good friends there.

    • profile image

      Jayfort 

      6 years ago

      Claire, nuclear weapons are primarily a deterrent weapons. (Don't hit me or I'll hit you back MUCH worse.) Why Israel? To keep the multitude of other Middle Eastern nations full of people who hate Jews from attacking Israel. Letting these other Middle Eastern nations have nukes is like giving gasoline and matches to an arsonist...something WILL burn!

    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 

      6 years ago

      So many weapons for such a small country, I again ask the question...Why only Israel in the Middle East?

      Very Interesting hub though.

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