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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Israel's Nuclear Potential and Its Threat

But in fact there is not much enough reliable information about Israel's nuclear potential
Participants of the 47th general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that is to open in Vienna today will discuss a report on Israel's nuclear potential and its threat. This is quite obvious that it wasn't Israel that suggested the idea for discussion. It was the League of Arab States that demanded that the issue must be considered. The hearing of the report may develop into a diplomatic scandal as the Israeli government always received discussion of the issue rather painfully.

This is quite clear that the discussion will touch not only upon Israel. According to Russia's news agency RIA Novosti, participants of the conference plan to touch upon the same aspect with respect to Iran, North Korea and Iraq, although it's not quite clear why it is to be mentioned at all. However, Israel stands apart from the above mentioned countries. The explanation to this fact is not their political regimes; in fact, this is not clear for sure if Teheran and Pyongyang hold nuclear weapons, while the nuclear situation is quite clear with respect to Israel.

But in fact there is not much enough reliable information about Israel's nuclear potential. According to some sources, Israel holds 200 nuclear warheads, the Jericho medium-range ballistic missiles (the missiles were designed together with France in the 1960s) and Jericho-2. The situation is rather particular as some sources report that the missiles were designed together with Iran at the time when the shah was in power. There are also some facts saying that Israelis hold inter-continental ballistic missiles with the range of 5,000 kilometers (the Jericho missiles have the range of 1,500 kilometers). Britain's Magazine Janes reports that the missiles are deployed at Zaharia Base in Beit Shemesha. The Israeli government doesn't make any attempts either to confirm or to deny the information about the country's nuclear potential.

A real scandal with participation of the BBC television broke out this summer. BBC journalists made a TV program about Israel's nuclear weapons that started with the following rhetoric questions: "Which of the Mideast counties has non-authorized nuclear weapons? Which country has no external control over its nuclear resources? What country sentenced its nuclear spy to 18 years of imprisonment? (We mean physician Mordechai Vaanunu convicted for espionage, for disclosure of secrets about Israel's nuclear program, to be more exact, in 1986)."
The reaction of the Israeli Foreign Ministry was extremely harsh when it called the TV program anti-Semitic. Shimon Peres, one of the founding fathers of the Israeli nuclear program, was asked once why the UN must control nuclear reactors of Iraq but doesn't control those of Israel. Shimon Peres answered that Iraq was the dictatorship that cannot be compared to Israel. "Hussein killed thousands of Kurds with chemical weapons. He is a murderer which is not applied to Israel."

In fact, the above mentioned argument is the key factor that justifies the secrecy of the Israeli authorities. Although it is also suggested that Israel shouldn't keep this widely known secret because the very knowledge that Israelis hold nuclear weapons won't keep Arabs from unleashing a war. That is why, it was believed, open tests of nuclear weapons could be held, but if it was clear the threat of war was obvious it was necessary to state it is impossible to apply the weapons.

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