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Israel 'may have 200 nuclear weapons'

Israel's top secret Dimona nuclear facility

New satellite photographs published on the internet indicate that Israel could have made enough plutonium for up to 200 nuclear weapons, US scientists say.

The photographs of the secret Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona in the Negev desert appear on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

The new images were obtained last month by Space Imaging Corporation's Ikonos satellite.

The FAS draws its conclusions from comparisons of the latest images with pictures of the Dimona facility taken by a US reconnaissance satellite in 1971.

Part of the FAS work is to monitor non-conventional weapons capabilities throughout the world.

The pictures "indicate that no new cooling towers were constructed in the years between 1971 and 2000," the FAS report says.

"This strongly suggests that the reactor's power level has not been increased significantly during this period. This would suggest an annual production rate of plutonium of about 20kg."

Nuclear arsenal

"Based on plausible upper and lower bounds of the operating practices at the reactor, Israel could have thus produced enough plutonium for at least 100 nuclear weapons, but probably not significantly more than 200 weapons," the FAS said.

The latest pictures have been shown on Israeli television and published in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonoth.

Israeli censorship laws allow local media to quote foreign reports, provided the source is mentioned.

Israel is now the only state with nuclear weapons that does not admit to having such weapons. It has always refused to allow international inspection of the Dimona facility, and is among the few states that have refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Israel maintains what is known as a policy of 'nuclear ambiguity', saying that it will not be the first country to introduce them to the Middle East.

In 1986 Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the site, was jailed for 18 years for providing information about Dimona, including photos published in the UK's Sunday Times.

Israeli-US 'understanding'

The Israeli authorities have said they want to question Avner Cohen, an Israeli writer living in self-imposed exile in the United States, in connection with his 1998 book "Israel and the Bomb".

The book argues that there was an Israeli-US understanding that Washington would turn a blind eye to Israel's nuclear programme provided Israel kept a low profile and did not carry out nuclear tests.

The Dimona reactor has been operating since 1965.

The FAS says that by the late 1990s the US intelligence community estimated that Israel possessed 75-130 nuclear weapons.

They would include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, bombs for Israeli aircraft and possibly other tactical nuclear weapons.

-- Uncle Bob (, August 23, 2000


what would you-do. if surrounded by enemies-that hate you too the=max!!

-- al-d. (, August 23, 2000.

Why do you people keep posting this stuff? Are you getting holy points for this? I thought this was going to be a happy-go-lucky post about bunnies and fluffy little puppy dogs. You purposely misled us Uncle Bob. I will never read another post by you, but rest assured I will post and let the whole world know that you are a holier-than-thou self righteous religious airhead. Did I mention that I'M NOT BITTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nope, I'm just mildly upset. So stop posting anything I disagree with. That goes for you RepubliKans, Libertarians, Katholiks, Episkopalians, Animists, Hindus, Presbyterians, and Michael Jacksonists. I mean I'm a Zooasterarian, but I would never post anything mentioning that I am a Zooasterarian to anywhere but a Zooasterarian forum. It's not that I'm not proud to ba a Zooasterarian, I am proud to be a Zooasterarian but I would never post anything about Zooaster to an internet forum because that would make me an intolerant bigot like everyone else on this forum except for me and Zooaster himself.

-- Matilda Tress (tressbot@very.bitter), August 23, 2000.

my name spelled backwards is Satan...

-- Uncle Bob (, August 23, 2000.

Bobelcnu? My last name spelled backwards is mud mud!

-- dum dum (red@rum.redrum), August 23, 2000.

Fuck off Bob. The Bill Nye thing wasn't funny, don't press your luck.

-- (, August 23, 2000.

Oh leave Uncle Bob alone, despite the fact he can't spell, he's one of us.

-- One of the guys and gals (here@TB.uncensored), August 23, 2000.

Uncle Bob rocks! Whoop Whoop!!

-- Dr. Sally (, August 23, 2000.

Fuck off Bob. The Bill Nye thing wasn't funny, don't press your luck.

You eat with that mouth?

-- Uncle Bob (, August 23, 2000.

Lessee ...

2000-1971 = 29 years.

20 kg/y * 29 y = 580 kg plutonium.

But the reactor's been operating since 1965.

So maybe it's as much as 20 kg/y * 35 y = 700 kg Pu.

100 nuclear weapons => 5.8-7.0 kg (12.8-15.4 lb.) critical mass for Pu.

200 nukes => 2.9-3.5 kg (6.4-7.7 lb.) critical mass.

"... probably not significantly more than 200 weapons" => critical mass isn't significantly lower than 2.9 kg (which figures, since I've never before seen any estimate that low).

As for the upper limit, 7.0 kg -- that's more than some previous estimates I've seen. But of course a nuclear weapon could contain more than the critical mass, which is only the minimum amount necessary for a chain reaction.

Of course, any public mention of data that can be used to calculate critical mass should probably be misleading, and I suppose the FAS is responsible in this regard.

(The only former U.S. Navy submarine reactor operator with whom I've had any conversation about the subject of fissionable material said not a single word, not even "breadbox", that could be used to deduce any element's critical mass in any way, shape, or form, nor did he say anything else that could be a security violation as far as I could tell. His other friends and I were only teasing him, and he knew it, but he got a really serious face on as soon as the conversation took that turn, and he didn't indulge in even a breath of banter, but patiently sat through it until we gave up after a couple of minutes.)

Tom Clancy has a figure somewhere in his novel "The Sum of All Fears", whose plot starts with the loss of a nuclear bomb by the Isrealis. But that figure might be one of the technical details Clancy says in his afterword that he altered, of course.

-- No Spam Please (, August 24, 2000.

Time to reserect "The Bunker," Uncle Bob?

-- (, August 24, 2000.

Good idea...

The Bunker II

comming to a www near you...

-- Uncle Bob (, August 24, 2000.


-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), August 24, 2000.

"Bill" Nye was killed Monday"

You eat with that brain?

-- (1. go back to bunker 2. get a new brain @ 3. don't come back here), August 24, 2000.

Hey Matilda go take a flying fuck will you. You bitter asshole.

-- (, August 24, 2000.

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