A Syrian anti-aircraft missile fell about 30 kilometers from the Dimona nuclear reactor from which the Israeli nuclear program was launched, which enabled it to obtain dozens of nuclear warheads. What is the story of the Israeli nuclear program?
Although Israel has never admitted to possessing nuclear weapons, few international experts question its presence on the global list of nuclear powers.
It can be said that Israel’s nuclear capabilities are the most secretive programs of weapons of mass destruction in the world.
Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the treaty designed to prevent the global spread of nuclear weapons.
As a result, Israel is not subject to inspections or runs the risk of sanctions being imposed by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.
Israel’s nuclear capabilities have been the subject of largely inaccurate intelligence estimates since the 1960s, when it began operating the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev desert.
In the mid-1980s, it was declassified when the former expert at the reactor, Mordechai Vanunu, provided a description and photos of Israeli nuclear warheads to a British newspaper.
The evidence Vanunu provided has led to a review of previous estimates of the number of nuclear warheads that Israel is believed to have, which in 2003 were estimated to be at least 100 and possibly 200 nuclear warheads.
There is no evidence that Israel ever conducted a nuclear test, but there is speculation that the suspected nuclear explosion in the southern Indian Ocean in 1979 was a joint experiment between Israel and South Africa, and that post-apartheid South Africa dismantled its nuclear program.
Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, it began to show an interest in possessing nuclear weapons with the aim of reaching a “final deterrent,” according to the opinion of Israeli leaders.
The Israel Atomic Energy Commission was formed in 1952 and began to work closely with the Israeli army.
By 1953, the process of extracting uranium in the Negev desert began, and a new method for producing heavy water was developed, providing Israel with its own ability to produce some of the most basic elements in this field.
In order to design and build the reactor, Israel requested and obtained assistance from France.
According to the Washington-based Global Security website, a secret agreement between France and Israel under which the Dimona plant was built in the late 1950s.
The Dimona nuclear complex was described as a textile factory, agricultural plant, and mineral research facility until 1960, when then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion stated that the complex was a nuclear research center that was built for “peaceful purposes”.
The United States expressed its concern when U2 spy planes revealed the construction of the Dimona reactor in 1958.
American inspectors visited the reactor during the 1960s several times, but were unable to obtain an accurate picture of the activities that were taking place there.
Global Security says the Israelis have gone further, installing false panels for control rooms and laying bricks on elevators and corridors that reach certain areas of the facility.
The inspectors said at the time that no clear scientific research or civilian nuclear energy program would justify such a massive reactor, which is seen as evidence of Israel’s nuclear bomb program. The inspectors found no evidence indicating “weapons related activities.”
A CIA report in 1968 concluded that Israel had begun to produce nuclear weapons. This followed years of speculation about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal.
The Vanunu case
Mordechai Vanunu, who worked as a technician at the Dimona complex, in 1986 provided the British Sunday Times newspaper with detailed information about Israel’s nuclear program, which prompted observers to classify Israel as a nuclear power.
Before he could reveal more to the media, Vanunu was a victim of the classic “honey trap”.
He was lured out of his hiding place in the British capital London by an Israeli secret agent who convinced him that she wanted to meet him in the Italian capital, Rome, and as soon as he arrived there, other Israeli agents drugged him and was sent back to Israel, where he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment after being tried for treason in a trial. Secrecy.
The late Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres, who is widely seen as the architect of the Israeli nuclear weapons program, said during the trial that Vanunu’s actions had done great damage to Israel’s security.
Other countries in the Middle East have expressed deep concern about the existence of an Israeli nuclear weapons program.
At the time, some countries in the region accused the United States of adopting double standards by ignoring Israeli weapons programs while insisting that others, especially former Iraq, Iran and Syria, pose a threat to peace because of the weapons of mass destruction they are said to possess.
Mohamed ElBaradei, then head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and hand over its nuclear weapons in order to promote peace in the Middle East.
And he warned that Israel’s belief that it is safer because it possesses such weapons is a mistake, as other Middle Eastern countries feel threatened by the presence of these weapons in the possession of Israel.