26-12-2007, 05:41 AM
almourabit almourabit
: Dec 2006
: 1,807

IV. 1974-1999: Bringing the Bomb up the Basement Stairs

Never Again!

- Reportedly welded on the
first Israeli nuclear bomb[77]

Shortly after the 1973 war, Israel allegedly fielded considerable nuclear artillery consisting of American 175 mm and 203 mm self-propelled artillery pieces, capable of firing nuclear shells. If true, this shows that Dimona had rapidly solved the problems of designing smaller weapons since the crude 1967 devices. If true, these low yield, tactical nuclear artillery rounds could reach at least 25 miles. The Israeli Defense Force did have three battalions of the 175mm artillery (36 tubes), reportedly with 108 nuclear shells and more for the 203mm tubes. Some sources describe a program to extend the range to 45 miles. They may have offered the South Africans these low yield, miniaturized, shells described as, the best stuff we got.[78] By 1976, according to one unclassified source, the Central Intelligence Agency believed that the Israelis were using plutonium from Dimona and had 10 to 20 nuclear weapons available.[79]

In 1972, two Israeli scientists, Isaiah Nebenzahl and Menacehm Levin, developed a cheaper, faster uranium enrichment process. It used a laser beam for isotope separation. It could reportedly enrich seven grams of Uranium 235 sixty percent in one day.[80] Sources later reported that Israel was using both centrifuges and lasers to enrich uranium.[81]

Questions remained regarding full-scale nuclear weapons tests. Primitive gun assembled type devices need no testing. Researchers can test non-nuclear components of other types separately and use extensive computer simulations. Israel received data from the 1960 French tests, and one source concludes that Israel accessed information from U.S. tests conducted in the 1950s and early 1960s. This may have included both boosted and thermonuclear weapons data.[82] Underground testing in a hollowed out cavern is difficult to detect. A West Germany Army Magazine, Wehrtechnik, in June 1976, claimed that Western reports documented a 1963 underground test in the Negev. Other reports show a test at Al-Naqab, Negev in October 1966.[83]

A bright flash in the south Indian Ocean, observed by an American satellite on 22 September 1979, is widely believed to be a South Africa-Israel joint nuclear test. It was, according to some, the third test of a neutron bomb. The first two were hidden in clouds to fool the satellite and the third was an accidentthe weather cleared.[84] Experts differ on these possible tests. Several writers report that the scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory believed it to have been a nuclear explosion while a presidential panel decided otherwise.[85] President Carter was just entering the Iran hostage nightmare and may have easily decided not to alter 30 years of looking the other way.[86] The explosion was almost certainly an Israeli bomb, tested at the invitation of the South Africans. It was more advanced than the gun type bombs developed by the South Africans.[87] One report claims it was a test of a nuclear artillery shell.[88] A 1997 Israeli newspaper quoted South African deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, as confirming it was an Israeli test with South African logistical support.[89]

Controversy over possible nuclear testing continues to this day. In June 1998, a Member of the Knesset accused the government of an underground test near Eilat on May 28, 1998. Egyptian nuclear experts had made similar charges. The Israeli government hotly denied the claims.[90]

Not only were the Israelis interested in American nuclear weapons development data, they were interested in targeting data from U.S. intelligence. Israel discovered that they were on the Soviet target list. American-born Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard obtained satellite-imaging data of the Soviet Union, allowing Israel to target accurately Soviet cities. This showed Israel's intention to use its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent political lever, or retaliatory capability against the Soviet Union itself. Israel also used American satellite imagery to plan the 7 June 1981 attack on the Tammuz-1 reactor at Osiraq, Iraq. This daring attack, carried out by eight F-16s accompanied by six F-15s punched a hole in the concrete reactor dome before the reactor began operation (and just days before an Israeli election). It delivered 15 delay-fused 2000 pound bombs deep into the reactor structure (the 16th bomb hit a nearby hall). The blasts shredded the reactor and blew out the dome foundations, causing it to collapse on the rubble. This was the world's first attack on a nuclear reactor.[91]

Since 19 September 1988, Israel has worked on its own satellite recon- naissance system to decrease reliance on U.S. sources. On that day, they launched the Offeq-1 satellite on the Shavit booster, a system closely related to the Jericho-II missile. They launched the satellite to the west away from the Arabs and against the earth's rotation, requiring even more thrust. The Jericho-II missile is capable of sending a one ton nuclear payload 5,000 kilometers. Offeq-2 went up on 3 April 1990. The launch of the Offeq-3 failed on its first attempt on 15 September 1994, but was successful 5 April 1995.[92]

Mordechai Vanunu provided the best look at the Israeli nuclear arsenal in 1985 complete with photographs.[93] A technician from Dimona who lost his job, Vanunu secretly took photographs, immigrated to Australia and published some of his material in the London Sunday Times. He was subsequently kidnapped by Israeli agents, tried and imprisoned. His data shows a sophisticated nuclear program, over 200 bombs, with boosted devices, neutron bombs, F-16 deliverable warheads, and Jericho warheads.[94] The boosted weapons shown in the Vanunu photographs show a sophistication that inferred the requirement for testing.[95] He revealed for the first time the underground plutonium separation facility where Israel was producing 40 kilograms annually, several times more than previous estimates. Photographs showed sophisticated designs which scientific experts say enabled the Israelis to build bombs with as little as 4 kilograms of plutonium. These facts have increased the estimates of total Israeli nuclear stockpiles (see Appendix A).[96] In the words of one American, [the Israelis] can do anything we or the Soviets can do.[97] Vanunu not only made the technical details of the Israeli program and stockpile public but in his wake, Israeli began veiled official acknowledgement of the potent Israeli nuclear deterrent. They began bringing the bomb up the basement stairs if not out of the basement.

Israel went on full-scale nuclear alert again on the first day of Desert Storm, 18 January 1991. Seven SCUD missiles were fired against the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa by Iraq (only two actually hit Tel Aviv and one hit Haifa). This alert lasted for the duration of the war, 43 days. Over the course of the war, Iraq launched around 40 missiles in 17 separate attacks at Israel. There was little loss of life: two killed directly, 11 indirectly, with many structures damaged and life disrupted.[98] Several supposedly landed near Dimona, one of them a close miss.[99] Threats of retaliation by the Shamir government if the Iraqis used chemical warheads were interpreted to mean that Israel intended to launch a nuclear strike if gas attacks occurred. One Israeli commentator recommended that Israel should signal Iraq that any Iraqi action against Israeli civilian populations, with or without gas, may leave Iraq without Baghdad.[100] Shortly before the end of the war the Israelis tested a nuclear capable missile which prompted the United States into intensifying its SCUD hunting in western Iraq to prevent any Israeli response.[101] The Israeli Air Force set up dummy SCUD sites in the Negev for pilots to practice onthey found it no easy task.[102] American government concessions to Israel for not attacking (in addition to Israeli Patriot missile batteries) were:
Allowing Israel to designate 100 targets inside Iraq for the coalition to destroy,
Satellite downlink to increase warning time on the SCUD attacks (present and future),
Technical parity with Saudi jet fighters in perpetuity.[103]

All of this validated the nuclear arsenal in the minds of the Israelis. In particular the confirmed capability of Arab states without a border with Israel, the so-called second tier states, to reach out and touch Israel with ballistic missiles confirmed Israel's need for a robust first strike capability.][104] Current military contacts between Israel and India, another nuclear power, bring up questions of nuclear cooperation.[105] Pakistani sources have already voiced concerns over a possible joint Israeli-Indian attack on Pakistan's nuclear facilities.[106] A recent Parameters article speculated on Israel's willingness to furnish nuclear capabilities or assistance to certain states, such as Turkey.[107] A retired Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Amnon Shahak, has declared, all methods are acceptable in withholding nuclear capabilities from an Arab state.[108]

As the Israeli bomb comes out of the basement, open discussion, even in Israel, is occurring on why the Israelis feel they need an arsenal not used in at least two if not three wars. Avner Cohen states: It [Israel] must be in a position to threaten another Hiroshima to prevent another holocaust.[109] In July 1998 Shimon Peres was quoted in the Jordan Times as saying, We have built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima, but to have an Oslo,[110] referring to the peace process.

One list of current reasons for an Israeli nuclear capability is:
To deter a large conventional attack,
To deter all levels of unconventional (chemical, biological, nuclear) attacks,
To preempt enemy nuclear attacks,
To support conventional preemption against enemy nuclear assets,
To support conventional preemption against enemy non-nuclear (conventional, chemical, biological) assets,
For nuclear warfighting,
The Samson Option (last resort destruction).[111]

The most alarming of these is the nuclear warfighting. The Israelis have developed, by several accounts, low yield neutron bombs able to destroy troops with minimal damage to property.[112] In 1990, during the Second Gulf War, an Israeli reserve major general recommended to America that it use non-contaminating tactical nuclear weapons against Iraq.[113] Some have speculated that the Israelis will update their nuclear arsenal to micronukes and tinynukes which would be very useful to attack point targets and other tactical or barrier (mining) uses.[114] These would be very useful for hardened deeply buried command and control facilities and for airfield destruction without exposing Israeli pilots to combat.[115] Authors have made the point that Israeli professional military schools do not teach nuclear tactics and would not use them in the close quarters of Israel. Many Israeli officers have attended American military schools where they learned tactical use in crowded Europe.[116]

However, Jane's Intelligence Review has recently reported an Israeli review of nuclear strategy with a shift from tactical nuclear warheads to long range missiles.[117] Israel always has favored the long reach, whether to Argentina for Adolph Eichmann, to Iraq to strike a reactor, Entebbe for hostages, Tunisia to hit the PLO, or by targeting the Soviet Union's cities. An esteemed Israeli military author has speculated that Israel is pursuing an R&D program to provide MIRVs (multiple independent reentry vehicles) on their missiles.[118]

The government of Israel recently ordered three German Dolphin Class 800 submarine, to be delivered in late 1999. Israel will then have a second strike capability with nuclear cruise missiles, and this capability could well change the nuclear arms race in the Middle East.[119] Israeli rhetoric on the new submarines labels them national deterrent assets. Projected capabilities include a submarine-launched nuclear missile with a 350-kilometer range.[120] Israel has been working on sea launch capability for missiles since the 1960s.[121] The first basing options for the new second-strike force of nuclear missile capable submarines include Oman, an Arab nation with unofficial Israeli relations, located strategically near Iran.[122] A report indicates that the Israel Defense Ministry has formally gone to the government with a request to authorize a retaliatory nuclear strike if Israel was hit with first strike nuclear weapons. This report comes in the wake of a recent Iran Shihab-3 missile test and indications to Israel that Iran is two to three years from a nuclear warhead.[123] Israeli statements stress that Iran's nuclear potential would be problem to all and would require American leadership, with serious participation of the G-7 . . . .[124]

A recent study highlighted Israel's extreme vulnerability to a first strike and an accompanying vulnerability even to a false alarm.[125] Syria's entire defense against Israel seems to rest on chemical weapons and warheads.[126] One scenario involves Syria making a quick incursion into the Golan and then threatening chemical strikes, perhaps with a new, more lethal (protective-mask-penetrable) Russian nerve gas if Israel resists.[127] Their use would drive Israel to nuclear use. Israeli development of an anti- missile defense, the Arrow, a fully fielded (30-50[128]) Jericho II ballistic missile, and the soon-to-arrive strategic submarine force, seems to have produced a coming change in defense force structure. The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, quotes the Israeli Chief of Staff discussing the establishment of a strategic command to . . . prepare an adequate response to the long term threats. . . [129]

The 1994 accord with Jordan, allowing limited Israeli military presence in Jordanian skies, could make the flying distance to several potential adversaries considerably shorter.[130] Israel is concerned about Iran's desire to obtain nuclear weapons and become a regional leader, coupled with large numbers of Shiite Moslems in southern Lebanon. The Israeli Air Force commanding general issued a statement saying Israel would consider an attack if any country gets close to achieving a nuclear capability.[131] The Israelis are obviously considering actions capable of stopping such programs and are buying aircraft such as the F-15I with sufficient operational range. At the first delivery of these 4,000 kilometer range fighters, the Israeli comment was, the aircraft would help counter a growing nuclear threat.[132] They consider such regional nation nuclear programs to be a sufficient cause for war. Their record of accomplishment is clear: having hit the early Iraqi nuclear effort, they feel vindicated by Desert Storm. They also feel that only the American and Israeli nuclear weapons kept Iraq's Saddam Hussein from using chemical or biological weapons against Israel.[133]

Israel, like Iran, has desires of regional power. The 1956 alliance with France and Britain might have been a first attempt at regional hegemony. Current debate in the Israeli press considers offering Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and perhaps Syria (after a peace agreement) an Israeli nuclear umbrella of protection.[134] A nuclear Iran or Iraq might use its nuclear weapons to protect some states in the region, threaten others, and attempt to control oil prices.[135]

Another speculative area concerns Israeli nuclear security and possible misuse. What is the chain of decision and control of Israel's weapons? How susceptible are they to misuse or theft? With no open, frank, public debate on nuclear issues, there has accordingly been no debate or information on existing safeguards. This has led to accusations of monolithic views and sinister intentions.[1360] Would a right wing military government decide to employ nuclear weapons recklessly? Ariel Sharon, an outspoken proponent of Greater Israel was quoted as saying, Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.[137] Could the Gush Emunim, a right wing religious organization, or others, hijack a nuclear device to liberate the Temple Mount for the building of the third temple? Chances are small but could increase as radicals decry the peace process.[138] A 1997 article reviewing the Israeli Defense Force repeatedly stressed the possibilities of, and the need to guard against, a religious, right wing military coup, especially as the proportion of religious in the military increases.[139 ]

Israel is a nation with a state religion, but its top leaders are not religious Jews. The intricacies of Jewish religious politics and rabbinical law do affect their politics and decision processes. In Jewish law, there are two types of war, one obligatory and mandatory (milkhemet mitzvah) and the one authorized but optional (milkhemet reshut).[140] The labeling of Prime Minister Begin's Peace for Galilee operation as a milchemet brera (war of choice) was one of the factors causing it to lose support.[141] Interpretation of Jewish law concerning nuclear weapons does not permit their use for mutual assured destruction. However, it does allow possession and threatening their use, even if actual use is not justifiable under the law. Interpretations of the law allow tactical use on the battlefield, but only after warning the enemy and attempting to make peace. How much these intricacies affect Israeli nuclear strategy decisions is unknown.[142]

The secret nature of the Israeli nuclear program has hidden the increasing problems of the aging Dimona reactor and adverse worker health effects. Information is only now public as former workers sue the government. This issue is now linked to continued tritium production for the boosted anti-tank and anti-missile nuclear warheads that Israeli continues to need. Israel is attempting to obtain a new, more efficient, tritium production technology developed in India.[143]

One other purpose of Israeli nuclear weapons, not often stated, but obvious, is their use on the United States. America does not want Israel's nuclear profile raised.[144] They have been used in the past to ensure America does not desert Israel under increased Arab, or oil embargo, pressure and have forced the United States to support Israeli diplomatically against the Soviet Union. Israel used their existence to guarantee a continuing supply of American conventional weapons, a policy likely to continue.[145]

Regardless of the true types and numbers (see Appendix A) of Israeli nuclear weapons, they have developed a sophisticated system, by myriad methods, and are a nuclear power to be reckoned with. Their nuclear ambiguity has served their purposes well but Israel is entering a different phase of visibility even as their nuclear capability is entering a new phase. This new visibility may not be in America's interest.[146] Many are predicting the Israeli nuclear arsenal will become less useful out of the basement and possibly spur a regional arms race. If so, Israel has a 5-10 year lead time at present before mutual assured destruction, Middle East style, will set in. Would regional mutual second strike capability, easier to acquire than superpower mutual second strike capability, result in regional stability? Some think so.[147] Current Israeli President Ezer Weizman has stated the nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional.[148]

almourabit ; 26-12-2007 05:44 AM