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05 August 2014.|
In 1957, the Israelis turned to France to help them build a nuclear weapon.
France agreed – secretly – to help install a plutonium-based facility in the small Israeli city of Dimona.
This was actually kept secret from the United States.
French foreign policy at the time was independent from, and standoffish toward, the United States.
A year earlier, Israel had assisted France and the United Kingdom in launching a disastrous invasion of Egypt that became known as the “Suez Crisis”; French leaders may have felt that they owed Israel.
Whatever France’s reason, both countries kept it a secret from the United States.
When U.S. intelligence did finally discover Israel’s nuclear facility, in 1960, Israeli leaders insisted that it was for peaceful purposes and that they were not interested in acquiring a nuclear weapon.
This, of course, wasn’t true, and for years they resisted and stalled U.S.-backed nuclear inspectors sent to the facility.
After the 1967 war, Isreali leaders were convinced that , though they had won, they could lose next time.
Two crucial things happened in the next five years.
First, in 1968, Israel finally created its first working nuclear weapon. Second was a White House meeting in September 1969 between President Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
What happened during that meeting is secret.
But the Nixon’s administration’s records show that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said to Nixon, in a later conversation about the Meir meeting, “during your private discussions with Golda Meir you emphasized that our primary concern was that Israel make no visible introduction of nuclear weapons or undertake a nuclear test program.”
That meeting between Nixon and Meir became what has been Israel’s unofficial policy ever since: one in which the country does nothing to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate its nuclear weapons program, and in exchange the United States would accept it.
Israel has never confirmed or denied possession of nuclear weapons, but according to a report by US experts it has at least 80 operative warheads and has enough material to produce up to 190 more.
In a report published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, nuclear weapon proliferation experts Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen assessed that Israel stopped producing nuclear warheads back in 2004 once it reached around 80 munitions.
However, the country can easily double its arsenal since it has enough fissile material to build at least another 115 bombs, experts say.
Out of the approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, 50 are for delivery by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft. The operational status of the longer-range Jericho III ballistic missile is unknown.
It is also rumored that Israel has nuclear missiles that can be fired from submarines.
These suspicions were fueled by the fact that Germany supplied Israel with five Dolphin-class submarines, allegedly capable of launching nuclear missiles, and signed a contract to build a sixth.