2007 Before Egypt before Libya before, Syria?


How U.S. and Israeli Aggression are leading us to World Nuclear War
by Carol Moore, updated November 2007

* Introduction: US & Israel Plans….
* Facts about Known Nuclear Nations
* Military Relations among Nuclear Nations
* Past Threats of World Nuclear War
* Accidental Nuclear War Still Possible
* U.S. Aggression and Russian Response * “Samson Option”: Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail
* Six Escalation Scenarios to Nuclear War
* Nuclear War Progression (photos/graphics)
* Preventing and Surviving Nuclear War – Links
* Nuclear War Photos, Films and Videos
See Antiwar.Com for daily news and opinion updates


The United States wants to remain the only superpower with the power to unilaterally control any resources it needs and the government of any country that stands in its way of doing so. Obviously now the foremost target of the United States — and its only dependable partner in imperial overreach, Israel — is the Middle East and Iran. Both the U.S. and Israel want to control Arab and Muslim resources and make big profits for their military and other well-connected contractors. Both want to maintain a U.S.-Israel monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Additionally, Israel and its powerful American lobbies and leaders want to crush any potential challenge to Israel’s possession of stolen Palestinian lands. Tens of millions of American Christian Zionists support Israeli expansionism because they believe it will bring Armageddon and the return of Jesus.
United States military and political leaders, especially under President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, doubtless seek “nuclear primacy” – the ability to first strike both China’s 400 odd nuclear weapons and Russia’s 2,500 “on alert” weapons with minimal retaliation against American targets – i.e., maybe only a hundred U.S. cities would be destroyed and only 75 million Americans die immediately. See “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy” By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006.
Israel is especially dangerous because its leaders and supporters have made clear for years that if Israel was every devastated by any kind of war or attack it would retaliate in indiscriminate “Samson Option” attacks against not just on Muslim cities, but against European and even Russian targets. (See “Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail ” .) Russia, of course, would retaliate with thousands of nuclear bombs against the United States.
Given suspected U.S. nuclear primacy plans, Russia could feel compelled to attack the United States for acts like a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran, which is just a few hundred miles from its border. On January 25, 1995 Boris Yeltsin, then President of Russia, came within three minutes of initiating a full nuclear strike on the United States because of one Norwegian scientific rocket Russians could not identify. (Details below.) And U.S. leaders also could be spooked by a nuclear incident, as the 2002 movie “Sum of All Fears” illustrates.



Below are nations known to possess nuclear weapons. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq provide that Iraq had no capability to produce the weapons that it were the excuse for the invasion. In 2007 the U.S. plans a potentially catastrophic war against Iran’s nuclear power industry, despite the fact Iran’s ruling religious leaders have stated repeatedly they are against Iran ever producing them for religious reasons. In 2004 Mohamed E lBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, suggested that forty countries with peaceful nuclear programs could ramp them up to produce nuclear weapons if they so chose. How many of those would the United States decide it necessary to attack?
Note regarding size of the explosions, that Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were only 15-20 kilotons and killed 65,000 and 40,000 (25% of each city’s residents) within four months. Also, numbers below, which vary according to sources, are approximate. Additionally, the number of weapons that would be used or even work on detonation is less than the total number.
United States
(launch on warning) 7000 total
2,500+ on alert 15 megatons 8,100 miles Russia, China, other
(launch on warning) 6000 total
2,500+ on alert 20 megatons 6,800 miles US, Europe, China, other
France 464 300 kilotons 3,300 miles Russia
China 400 plus 5 megatons 6,800 miles US, Russia, India
(undeclared) 200-400 plus 100+ kilotons 3,000-5,000 miles Arabs/Muslims (Russia, Europe)*
England 186 200 kilotons 7,500 miles Russia, China
India 75-150 50-60 kilotons 1,550 miles Pakistan, China
Pakistan 15-25 approx 25+ kilotons 1,000 miles India (Israel/U.S forces)**
No. Korea 1-2 unknown kilotons unknown So. Korea, Japan, U.S.

* Because of the Samson Option where a devastated Israel would retaliate indiscriminately against Arab, Muslim and even European and Russian cities, holding all responsible because of alleged “anti-Semitism.”
** If Israel attacked Muslim nations with nuclear weapons or Muslim extremists took over.
See various estimates at: Nuclear Forces Guide; Nuclear Weapon information database



Strong military alliances, will go nuclear to protect ally | Weak (or tactical) relations include military sales only, informal or limited military cooperation or alliances; will not necessarily go nuclear for ally | Ambivalent (or suspicious) relation where misunderstandings, disagreements, change of leadership or reaction to a nuclear attack could lead to aggressive, pre-emptive or retaliatory nuclear exchange, including with each other’s allies | Hostile relation where moderate to high danger of aggressive, pre-emptive or retaliatory nuclear exchange, including with each other’s allies | N/A not applicable

Nations U.S Russia France/England China Israel India Pakistan
U.S. N/A Ambiv. Strong Ambiv. Strong Weak Ambiv.
Russia Ambiv. N/A Ambiv. Ambiv. Ambiv. Weak Ambiv.
France/England Strong Ambiv. N/A Ambiv. Ambiv. Weak Ambiv.
China Ambiv. Ambiv. Ambiv. N/A Weak Ambiv. Weak
Israel Ambiv.*
Hostile Ambiv. Weak N/A Weak Hostile
India Weak Weak Weak Ambiv Weak N/A Hostile
Pakistan Ambiv. Ambiv. Ambiv. Weak Hostile Hostile N/A

(* US willing to go to nuclear war to protect Israel, in part to prevent it from bringing on such a war but its aggressive actions, including against Russia, should Israel use the Samson Option. For recent articles about these alliances search the country names and “military alliances” on your favorite search engine. Antiwar.Com has a page for each country listing war and anti-war-related news and opinions.)

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

In the fifty-nine years of the nuclear age, defacto nuclear proliferation has lead to eight nations definitely having nuclear weapons – the U.S., Russia, England, France, China, India, Pakistan – and Israel which has yet to publicly admit it. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed on July 1, 1968 and entered into force on March 5, 1970. Central to the treaty is the concession of the Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons and in exchange, the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) agree to make progress on nuclear disarmament and provide unrestricted access to nuclear energy for non-military uses. The NPT has become the cornerstone of global disarmament efforts, yet its very existence is threatened by recent events. Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea withdrew in January 2003. For more information see Center for Defense Information Resources on Non-proliferation


Yesterday, Clinton permitted himself to put pressure on Russia [note: regarding its attacks on Chechnya]. It seems he has for a minute, for a second, for half a minute, forgotten that Russia has a full arsenal of nuclear weapons. He has forgotten about that. Then Russian President Boris Yeltsin 12-9-99

I haven’t forgotten that. You know, I didn’t think he’d forgotten America was a great power when he disagreed with what I did in Kosovo. Then U.S. President Bill Clinton 12-9-99

During the “Cold War”

The 1945-1989 “Cold War” between the U.S.S.R. and the United States was one long nuclear standoff. These threats continued into even the late 1990s and could easily be prompted by some new regional crisis, especially as the United States continues to build military bases all around Russia’s perimeter.
David R. Morgan, National President, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, describes in detail 16 threats to use nuclear weapons — most of them from the United States, many of which continue as standing threats: 1946-Iran and Yugoslavia; 1948-Berlin; 1950-Korea; 1954-Vietnam and China; 1956-Suez; 1958-China; 1959 and 1961-Berlin; 1962 Cuba (the most famous and most dangerous situation); 1969-Vietnam; 1970-Jordan; 1973-Israel; 1980-Iran; 1983-Reagan’s First Strike threats. And of course both the United States and Israel have repeatedly made it clear “no option” is off the table, first against Iraq and now against Iran.
In my studies of the Middle East, I discovered the U.S. military presence has included other threats to use nuclear weapons to prevent any “Soviet aggression” in the area and especially to protect Israel. In 1956, President Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons if the U.S.S.R. became involved in the Suez Crisis. In 1958, Eisenhower threatened Soviet-backed Egypt and Syria to keep them from interfering in Lebanon. In 1967, President Johnson considered using nuclear weapons during the Arab-Israeli war and the Washington-Moscow hot line was used for the first time. In 1973, during another Arab-Israeli war, President Nixon declared a nuclear alert that moved U.S. readiness to “DEFCON III”. In 1979, after the invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter threatened to use “any means necessary”, including nuclear weapons, in order to maintain U.S. supremacy in the Middle East. Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which included clashes with Syrian and Soviet troops, nearly triggered a nuclear alert.
And U.S. ally Israel, in its efforts to hold on to and even expand what hundreds of hundreds of millions of Muslims consider to be “colonized” and “occupied” land in Israel and the occupied territories, has often used the nuclear threat. The Federation of American scientists site notes: : Strategically, Israel uses its long-range missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft (and, some say, submarines with nuclear-armed cruise missiles) to deter both conventional and unconventional attacks, or to launch “the Samson Option”, an all-out attack against an adversary should defenses fail and population centers be threatened. In a lengthy article on Israel’s nuclear capability, anti-nuclear activists John Steinbach writes: ” Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union (and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” See more on Israeli nuclear weapons and its numerous “Samson Option” threats by Israeli leaders and their supporters.
The Soviet Union and later Russia also have used the nuclear threat. Angered by the United States placing nuclear missiles in Turkey in the early sixties, Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, leading to the Cuban missile crisis, the closest the world has come so far to nuclear war. (President Kennedy did not know there really were nuclear weapons when he threatened to invade and this information was released only after the fall of the Soviet Union.) Nevertheless, the nuclear standoff led to the Soviet Union withdrawing their nuclear missiles from Cuba and the U.S. withdrawing them from Turkey.

During the 1999 NATO Bombings of Serbia

During the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, Russian leaders repeatedly inferred that if bombing continued or ground troops entered Serbia, it might lead to nuclear war with Russia. A series of quotes, right up until the bombing stopped, illustrate how serious they were.
“I told NATO, the Americans, the Germans: Don’t push us toward military action. Otherwise there will be a European war for sure and possibly world war.” Russian President Boris Yeltsin, April 6, 1999
“In the event that NATO and America start a ground operation in Yugoslavia, they will face a second Vietnam, I do not want to forecast what is going to start then. I cannot rule out a third world war.” Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, April 17, 1999
“If NATO goes from air force to ground force it will be a world catastrophe. (Russia) has never felt such anti-Western, anti-European feelings.” First Deputy Russian Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, April 25, 1999.
“You have to understand that if we want to cause you a problem over this, we could. Someone, we don’t know who, could send up a missile from a ship or a submarine and detonate a nuclear weapon high over the United States. The EMP (electromagnetic pulse that destroys electronic and computer equipment) would take away all your capability.” Vladimir Lukin, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Policy Committee, late April, 1999
“Just let Clinton, a little bit, accidentally, send a missile. We will answer immediately. Such impudence! To unleash a war on a sovereign state. Without Security Council. Without United Nations. It could only be possible in a time of barbarism.” Boris Yeltsin, May 7, 1999
“The world has never in this decade been so close as now to the brink of nuclear war.” Viktor Chernomyrdin, May 27, 1999

India and Pakistan

India and Pakistan have repeatedly threatened nuclear war against each other, most seriously in the last few years. In late December 2002 Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, addressing Air Force veterans in Karachi, said: he last year “personally” conveyed a clear “message” to Prime Minister Vajpayee, “through every international leader who came to Pakistan”, namely, that Indian troops “should not expect a conventional war from Pakistan” if they “moved a single step across the international border or the Line of Control”. In response Indian Defense Minister George Fernandez said: “We can take a bomb or two, or more. When we respond, there will be no Pakistan.” About the same time former Army Chief of Staff Aslam Beg, then heading a right-wing Pakistani think tank said: “Our policy of deterrence is India-specific. No matter who comes for us, Israel, the United States or India we will take on India. If someone is thinking of taking on Pakistan they should know we will take on India.” And despite subsequent detente between the two nations during the remainder of 2003, as late as fall, 2003 Ariel Sharon visited India, worrying Pakistan that he was once again proposing India do a surgical strike against Pakistani nuclear assets. Once any such a Indian-Pakistani nuclear exchange began, there are a number of scenarios by which it could escalate into accidental or intentional world nuclear war.

During Run Up to U.S. War on Iraq

Sharon eyes ‘Samson option’ against Iraq …November 2002 News.Scotsman.Com [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon – who is courting extreme right-wingers to prop up his teetering government following the withdrawal of the Labour Party last week – has spoken openly of his willingness to strike back, and strike back hard, should his country be attacked by Iraq. … Sharon’s blunt admission that a retaliatory strike would be ordered in the event of an attack on Israel with non-conventional weapons came after discussions with US President George W Bush.
Israeli officials later interpreted the president’s stance as giving the green-light to Sharon to attack Baghdad only if Iraq launched a pre-emptive strike against the Jewish State before an American military campaign had got underway.
The officials said if an American military offensive had already begun, then Israel should show restraint and allow the US forces to retaliate.

U.S. Weighs Tactical Nuclear Strike on Iraq Paul Richter, January 25, 2003, Los Angeles Times. As the Pentagon continues a highly visible buildup of troops and weapons in the Persian Gulf, it is also quietly preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons in a war against Iraq, according to a report by a defense analyst. . .Military officials have been focusing their planning on the use of tactical nuclear arms in retaliation for a strike by the Iraqis with chemical or biological weapons, or to preempt one, Arkin says. His report, based on interviews and a review of official documents, appears in a column that will be published in The Times on Sunday. . . Critics contend that a bunker-buster strike could involve a huge radiation release and dangerous blast damage. They also say that use of a nuclear weapon in such circumstances would encourage other nuclear-armed countries to consider using such weapons in more kinds of situations and would badly undermine the half-century effort to contain the spread of nuclear arms. . .In a policy statement issued only last month, the White House said the United States “will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force — including through resort to all of our options — to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States.”

Bush refuses to rule out nuclear weapons March 23, 2003, News.Scotsman.com President George W Bush today refused to rule out the prospect of US forces using nuclear weapons if they were subjected to a chemical or biological attack in Iraq. Speaking at a joint press conference with Tony Blair at Camp David, the US president was asked whether, if coalition forces were subjected to a chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein, the US would use its nuclear capability. Mr Bush replied: “If he uses weapons of mass destruction, it will just prove our case. And we will deal with it. We have got one objective in mind, that is victory. And we will achieve victory.”

Against Iran

The Unthinkable: The US- Israeli Nuclear War on Iran by Michel Chossudovsky (January 21, 2007) There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration in liaison with Israel and NATO is planning the launching of a nuclear war against Iran, ironically, in retaliation for its nonexistent nuclear weapons program. The US-Israeli military operation is said to be in “an advanced state of readiness.”

December 16, 2005
Nuclear Deployment for an Attack on Iran
And the nuclear hitmen behind it
by Jorge Hirsch

Hersh: U.S. mulls nuclear option for Iran CNN Interview with Seymour Hersh (April 10, 2007)
BLITZER: Here’s the most explosive item in your new article in The New Yorker magazine. And I’ll read it: “The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites,” the nuclear sites in Iran, “little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. ‘Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,’ the former senior intelligence official said. ‘Decisive’ is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision, but we made it in Japan.” Now, this is an explosive charge, an explosive revelation, if true, that the United States is seriously considering using a tactical nuclear bomb or bombs to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

HERSH: What you just read says this. If you’re giving the White House a series of options, and the option is to get rid of an underground facility — the facility I’m talking about is Natanz, 75 feet under hard rock — if you want to tell the White House one sure way of getting it in a range of options is nuclear, what happened in this case is they gave that option, the JCS, the Joint Chiefs [of Staff].
And then, of course, nobody in their right mind would want to use a nuclear weapon in the Middle East, because it would be, my God, totally chaotic. When the JCS, the Joint Chiefs, and the planners wanted to walk back that option, what happened is about three or four weeks ago, the White House, people in the White House, in the Oval Office, the vice president’s office, said, no, let’s keep it in the plan.
That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. They refuse to take it out. And what I’m writing here is that if this isn’t removed — and I say this very seriously. I’ve been around this town for 40 years — some senior officers are prepared to resign. They’re that upset about the fact that this plan is kept in. Again, let me make the point, you’re giving a range of options early in the planning. To be sure of getting rid of it, you give that option.

World War III

On October 16, 2007, Vladimir Putin visited Iran to discuss Russia’s aid to Iran’s nuclear power program and “insisted that the use of force was unacceptable.” On October 17, Bush stated “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” understood as a message to Putin. On October 26 Putin compared U.S. plans to put up a missile defense system near Russia’s border as analogous to when the Soviet Union deployed missiles in Cuba, prompting the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war in 1962. On November 8 Bush said: “If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon.” This is interpreted as a comment about Israel’s use of the Samson Option to target Russia, which would retaliate with nuclear weapons against the United States.



Video About the Norwegian Rocket Incident; Wikipedia article Needless to say, the possibility of accidental nuclear war between the United States and Russia increases in an atmosphere of threats and counter-threats, especially relating to specific incidents or ongoing wars — and especially given Russia’s broken down radar and satellite early warning system which cover only a part of Russia’s 11 time zones at any one time. Computer and radar glitches, misinterpreted missile launches, unexpected large asteroid explosions — not to mention a nuclear detonation of unknown origin on either nation — could lead to a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia. Both nations have only a few short minutes to decide if a real attack is under-way.
Launch on Warning “Hair Trigger” Alert
The U.S. and Russia both have a nuclear policy of “launch on warning”–a “hair-trigger” alert system. This means that less than 15 minutes after detecting a missile attack — real or false — through radar and satellite early warning systems these nation’s militaries must launch their 5,000 on-alert nuclear weapons or possibly loose them to a first strike by the other side. And of this 15 minutes, only two or three minutes are allowed for actual deliberation by the Presidents of the United States or Russia. Barely time to get a phone call through on their “red telephones.” See a relevant video.

Past Near-Accidental Nuclear War

In the last 30 years there have been a number of incidents which would have led to nuclear war had not clear thinking human beings decided the warning systems were in error. (See Alan Phillips’ 20 Mishaps that Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War) In 1979 a nuclear war simulation tape in a NORAD computer was interpreted to be a real nuclear attack and for 6 minutes emergency preparations for nuclear retaliation were made until the error was discovered. In 1980 a flawed 64-cent chip in telephone switching hardware at NORAD started sending alarming messages to U.S. command centers that a nuclear attack was under way.
In 1983, a Russian satellite interpreted sun glare off clouds as a U.S. nuclear attack by multiple missiles and only a lower officer’s decision the U.S. had no reason to attack prevented him from reporting the sighting as a nuclear attack. In the closest call with disaster, in January, 1995, Russian President Yeltsin was alerted after radar detected an unexpected scientific missile launch. His nuclear “football” was activated, and he was close to a decision to launch when the missile (which could have been carrying 10 nuclear weapons) went out to sea. It later was discovered military leaders had failed to pass on Norway’s alert that it would be launching a scientific satellite that day.
Only the caution of a few rational-minded Russians saved most of you reading this from dying in a nuclear war in 1983 or 1995, i.e., the fact Russian nuclear commanders decided that false nuclear attack alerts were just that because the United States had no reason to launch a nuclear attack. However, had these accidents occurred when the U.S. was bombing Serbia in spring of 1999 or invading Iraq in 2003, who can say what the result might have been? Or what if a problem occurred soon after the U.S. made threats that Russia should quickly withdraw its troops from Georgia, an issue in early 2004?

Remove the Hair Trigger by John O. Pastore and Peter Zheutlin of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. According to “Dateline NBC,” in September 1983, just weeks after the Soviet Union shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007, and with Soviet-American relations at a low ebb, Col. Stanislov Petrov was on duty outside Moscow monitoring nine Soviet satellites that were, in turn, monitoring U.S. nuclear missile bases. Shortly after midnight Col. Petrov’s worst nightmare came true. Sirens sounded and his computer screen signaled the launch of a single U.S. missile (possibly carrying 10 nuclear warheads) just 30 seconds into its 25-minute flight to Moscow.
Petrov had to make an immediate assessment and relay it up the chain of command. If a full-scale U.S. attack was underway, the decision to retaliate would have to be made within minutes. All Petrov’s systems appeared to be working properly. Remarkably, he reported to his superior that the alarm was false. Petrov reasoned that a U.S. attack would not begin with the firing of a single missile. It made no sense.
And then, within seconds, his computer detected the launch of four additional missiles causing alarms to sound at the Soviet Union’s supreme command headquarters. The Soviets now had five minutes to “use them or lose them” — that is, respond with a nuclear attack of their own or risk unilateral annihilation. But Petrov held firm — he says he just didn’t believe an attack was underway — and assured those up the command that he was seeing a false alarm.
In 1995 Russian radar mistook a Norwegian research rocket for an incoming U.S. ballistic missile speeding toward Moscow. President Yeltsin’s nuclear “football” was activated. With only minutes to decide whether to launch a counterattack, it was determined that a U.S. attack was not imminent. (Washington Post article no longer at that link.)

Could Norway Trigger a Nuclear War? Notes on the Russian Command and Control System by Nikolai Sokov
[Regarding the January 25, 1995 incident in which Boris Yeltsin, then President of Russia, came within three minutes of initiating a full nuclear strike on the United States because of one Norwegian scientific rocket Russians could not identify.]
….The recently leaked information suggests that the reason for the “mistaken identity” of the Norwegian rocket was technical. The Norwegian rocket used the first stage of an old American tactical missile “Honest John.”
Consequently, the boost phase speed was higher than usual for previous research launches. The rocket was also unusually large, consisting of three stages and measuring 18.4 meters long and 6 tons. Apparently, it was mistaken for an American Trident II SLBM (its length is 13.4 meters without the front section). The trajectory (to the north from Russia) was also considered “legitimate,” since conceivably, a real attack could be preceded by launching a missile to the north of Russia and detonating a device with an extra powerful electromagnetic impulse to knock out communications systems. The computer systems classified it as a combat missile and flashed a warning. The system was automatically activated up to the top, including Yeltsin’s “nuclear briefcase.” Then, in a matter of minutes, the situation was assessed and the alert status decreased back to normal. Reportedly, the alert did not even reach launch teams at missile bases. (Article no longer at the fas.harvard.edu link.)

Russia’s Questionable Early Warning System

During the 1990s Russia’s early warning system degraded to only three operational satellites and an outdated ground-based radar system which failed to cover all possible missile entry routes from land and sea. Under Russian President Vladimir Putin these systems have been upgraded. Nevertheless, the fact that the United States has circled Russia with nuclear weapons over the last ten years makes Russian leaders particularly anxious since they have as little as 5 minutes to decide if they are under nuclear attack and launch missiles. Excerpts from articles below detail these problems.

Invitation to Nuclear Disaster by Michael Krepon. (May 1999) At present the Kremlin retains as many of its nuclear forces on hair-trigger alert as possible. This is done to compensate for weaknesses in Russia’s conventional forces, for gaping holes in the old Soviet early warning network and for the vast launch readiness of U.S. nuclear forces. Independent estimates suggest that Russia maintains in excess of 3,000 nuclear warheads in very high states of launch readiness. In September 1998 a deranged Russian sailor killed seven of his shipmates and barricaded himself inside the torpedo bay of his nuclear attack submarine. Security forces recaptured the boat, which may or may not have had nuclear weapons on board. In September 1998, a guard at a facility holding 30 tons of plutonium shot other guards and then escaped, heavily armed. The list of incidents of this kind in Russia that we know about is chilling. (Tuesday, May 25, 1999; Page A15, Washington, Post)

Cold War’s End Leaves Danger of Nuclear War by Robert Scheer. (April 1999) [Gen. Lee] Butler, a 33-year military veteran who rose to be director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is retired now. [He says:] “The Russian command and early warning system is in a state of great decline; about two-thirds of the satellites they relied on for early warning capability are inactive or failing. They’re experiencing false alarms now on almost a routine basis, and I shudder to think about the morale and discipline of their rocket forces. There are worrisome aspects to all of that. That’s why people like myself are so puzzled and dismayed that our government won’t even address the problem.”

Reducing a Common Danger: Improving Russia’s Early-Warning System by Geoffrey Forden (Cato Policy Analysis, May 3, 2001). An excellent detailed and illustrated analysis of the problem. Excerpt: Russia’s continuing economic difficulties pose a clear and increasing danger to itself, the world at large, and the United States in particular. Russia no longer has the working fleet of early-warning satellites that reassured its leaders that they were not under attack during the most recent false alert—in 1995 when a scientific research rocket launched from Norway was, for a short time, mistaken for a U.S. nuclear launch. With decaying satellites, the possibility exists that, if a false alert occurs again, Russia might launch its nuclear-tipped missiles.

Russia’s Perimeter or “Dead Hand” Missile Control System

Russia’s Strategy to Deal with Early Warning Failures from article by Michael Kraig. (November 1999) The existing gaps in the early warning network may increase Russian reliance on streamlined command procedures with a greater chance of human-machine errors. Military and political leaders can now choose among a variety of alternatives for improving quick-launch capabilities during a crisis if needed. One such option would give the civilian political authorities “push-button” control of forces without the intervention of the military’s General Staff in the authorization process.
Another option is a back-up launch authorization system named “Perimeter,” often called “The Dead Hand” by analysts. In the event that a US first strike would overwhelm the early warning capabilities and “decapitate” Russian leadership (as shown by ground-based nuclear detonation detectors and loss of communications), this system would automatically send up an ICBM with communications transceivers housed in the nose cone. Once at a sufficient height, this system would remotely transmit unlock codes and launch instructions to on-site human launch controllers for a large portion of the ICBM force. Less dramatically, existing plans for pre-delegation of launch codes could allow lower commanders to act on their own during tense crises if it is believed that the General Staff has been taken out by an American first strike.

Russian Nuclear Policy and the Status of Detargeting Statement before Subcommittee on Military Research and Development, House National Security Committee, March 17, 1997, By Bruce G. Blair, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies…Russia devised a back-up method of launch known as Perimeter, which they colloquially call the “dead hand.” If top leaders do not get a clear picture of an apparent missile attack, or if for any reason they fail to give timely authorization to retaliate, the General Staff can activate this system to ensure quasi-automatic retaliation in the event of their decapitation.

Russia’s “Dead Hand” system makes it possible for just one nuclear weapon, deployed against Russian strategic command center in Moscow, to lead to nuclear destruction of the United States and Russia. Terrorist seeking to destroy the U.S. or Israel using its nuclear weapons in the “Samson Option” only have to attack Russia’s vulnerable systems.. Meanwhile Russia and the U.S. have failed to establish any systems beyond far too vulnerable wireless and telephone “hot lines” to prevent accidental nuclear war.

Failure to Construct Joint Warning Center

Failure to Construct Joint Warning Center Suggests Bigger Problems on Missile Defense By Peter Baker
Washington Post June 13, 2001 To prevent false alarms about missile launches with catastrophic consequences, the United States and Russia decided to build a joint nuclear early warning center to share information. They liked the idea so much that they announced it twice.
… Yet now, as the presidents of Russia and the United States prepare for another summit, this “milestone” remains nothing more than an abandoned kindergarten building surrounded by overgrown shrubbery on the outskirts of Moscow.
…After Clinton and Yeltsin first agreed to the plan, the war in Kosovo the following spring soured Russia on the West and everything was put on hold for nearly a year. After relations thawed a bit, Clinton and Putin signed a memorandum of understanding last June to put it back on track.
But it became mired in details — Russians said their law required Americans to pay taxes on the equipment brought into the country and to assume liability for construction, while the U.S. side did not want to set a precedent that would affect larger aid programs. More important, the project lost momentum in the lame-duck days of the Clinton administration and has remained frozen pending the Bush team’s review of its Russia policy. The two sides have not met for months.
… According to Pentagon briefing papers, the center would be staffed 24 hours a day by a detachment of 16 U.S. officers joined by a similar number of Russians. U.S. and Russian officers would sit back to back, each with computers linked to their respective early warning headquarters. Although they would not receive raw data, they would have access to information processed in less than a minute that would show generic missile type, launch location and time, and launch path, impact area and time if known.



Russia’s Negative Reaction to Clinton Bombing of Serbia

President Bill Clinton’s spring 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia lead to several changes in Russian policy — made primarily to convince the United States it should continue to take Russia’s fear of attack and its retaliatory capacity seriously, per the quotations from Russian leaders above.
N-weapons targeted at ‘hostile’ West by Ian Traynor, Excerpts. (January 2000, article no longer linked) Russia has revised its defense doctrine to make it easier to press the nuclear button in an international crisis, while unequivocally declaring the West hostile. A new national security strategy decreed by the Acting President, Mr Vladimir Putin, on Monday and due to be published yesterday marks a radical shift in Russia’s view of the world. It ushers in a policy of “expanded nuclear containment” while pledging to resist Western attempts to dominate the globe.
The strategic shift lowers the threshold at which Russia may resort to nuclear weapons and is the first foreign policy move Mr Putin has taken since replacing Mr Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin on New Year’s Eve. The new document states that the use of nuclear weapons is necessary “to repel armed aggression if all other means of resolving a crisis situation have been exhausted or turn out to be ineffective”. “These are very substantial changes,” said a military affairs expert, Mr Sergei Sorkut. “The emphasis on nuclear weapons has changed. They can now be used in crisis situations.” The Putin strategy takes a much more confrontational position towards the West, a policy overhaul sparked by Nato’s expansion into former Warsaw Pact countries and by the US-led war against Yugoslavia last year.
It says that the “multipolar world” promoted by Mr Yeltsin, who sought to enlist India and China as allies, is in conflict with “the West led by the US”, which aims to use its military might to dominate world affairs. A new military doctrine, dovetailing with the Putin national security strategy, is expected to be endorsed by the Acting President in February, said Mr Sergei Ivanov, a close Putin ally and secretary of the Kremlin’s influential Security Council.

Moscow Issues New Policy Emphasizing Nuclear Arms New York Times, Excerpts. (January 2000) The new strategy was signed by Acting President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday and published today. It reviews not just foreign threats but also a sweeping array of internal dangers, from organized crime to terrorism to separatist movements like that of the militants in Chechnya. Taken together, the Russian changes represent a new view of the world by the nation’s leaders — one in which the West is no longer benign, but is a competitor that benefits from and even schemes to ensure Russian weakness.
The strategy calls the armed forces’ readiness “critically low”, and says social stability is at risk because the population is being stratified into “a thin layer of well-to-do-people and a predominant layer of citizens of scanty means.” Bruce G. Blair, an expert on Russian and American nuclear forces at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the change was “a codification of something that’s really already been pretty well cemented in the Russian psyche, at least among their security planners.” And the United States — which also periodically redraws its security landscape, in an exercise not dissimilar from that of the Kremlin — has traditionally been more hawkish about the first use of nuclear weapons than has Moscow.
In that sense, the Kremlin and White House nuclear policies are not all that far apart. But in terms of security, the Russian and American nuclear forces are now far apart, Mr. Blair said, with American forces remaining under tight control, while control of Russian nuclear missiles is more problematic.

Bush Rejects 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

George Bush withdrew from this treaty in order to begin construction of a missile defense program. This often is seen as a move by those who want to be able to first strike another country and then defend itself from counter-attack.

America withdraws from ABM treaty December 2001 BBC News Story
“This step was not a surprise for us. However, we consider it a mistake,” Mr Putin said in a national television broadcast. “I fully believe that the decision taken by the president of the United States does not pose a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation,” he said. Russia had previously warned that a US withdrawal would trigger a new nuclear arms race and weaken international security.

Kucinich v. Bush by Matt Bivens in the Nation, November, 2002 (link missing). Does the president have the sole authority under our system of government to tear up an international treaty? Or does the president need to seek and obtain the assent of Congress? Surprisingly, this fundamental question has never been definitively settled. That may soon change, as it is at the core of Dennis Kucinich et al. v. George W. Bush et al., which got underway Halloween Day here in US District Court. Most presidents have consulted with Congress when trying to renounce a treaty; in a few cases, presidents have acted alone. But the Kucinich case argues that never has a lone president junked a treaty as monumental as the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, an arms control cornerstone from the Cold War….Thirty-two members of the House of Representatives filed suit charging the president had overstepped his authority, hoping to bring renewed attention to the issue.
However, CNN reports that in December 2002, U.S. District Judge John Bates said “issues concerning treaties are largely political questions best left to the political branches of the government, not the courts, for resolution.”

2002 U.S.-Russia Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty Little Improvement

Bush’s Nuclear Madness — Countdown to Midnight by Frida Berrigan
[The agreement] …leaves the Bush administration free to do pretty much anything it wants. As Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central observed, “Instead of being able to blow the world up 11 or 12 times over, we’ll only be able to do it 4 or 5 times.” The agreement:*
* Sets no schedule for the reductions, as long as the desired levels—1,700-2,200 deployed weapons, compared with roughly 6,000 on each side now—are reached by 2012. (In theory, either side could even increase deployed weapons between now and then as long as they come back down to the agreed levels by the end of the ten-year period.)
** Weapons withdrawn from active service do not have to be destroyed; thousands may be saved as part of the “active response” force the Bush administration wants to maintain so that it can re-deploy weapons on short notice.
** Research and development of new kinds of nuclear weapons, like the bunker busting “Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator,” will not be restricted, and missile defense development will move ahead at full speed. In fact, when the agreement comes into force, the U.S. will continue to make massive new investments—at least $33 billion in the next five years alone—in its “New Triad” of long-range strike systems, missile defenses, and a revitalized nuclear weapons production complex. And that doesn’t even take into account the additional billions the administration will be spending on the militarization of space, which Defense Secretary Rumsfeld sees as the “new high ground” for guaranteeing U.S. military superiority for generations to come.
** Finally, to top it off, either side can withdraw from the agreement with just 90 days notice.
No wonder one Bush official described it as “our kind of agreement.”
Russia To Maintain Nuclear Arsenal Steve Gutterman, AP, Excerpts (August, 2002) Russia will maintain its arsenal nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday, boasting that the country’s SS-20 missile was capable of penetrating any defense system in existence. “The Strategic Missile Forces have been and remain a most important factor in the deterrence of aggressive aspirations and intentions toward Russia and our allies,” the Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov as saying at the base in Kartaly, in the Chelyabinsk region.
He did not name any allies and said Russia’s plans for its nuclear forces have “no relation to the U.S. plans for a national missile defense system,” according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. “Russia will develop its Strategic Nuclear Forces regardless of the relations it maintains with the United States or any other country,” it quoted him as saying. Ivanov boasted about the “superpowerful, highly effective RS-20 missiles” deployed at Kartaly, saying the missile — known in the West as the SS-20 Satan — is the “core of the combat might” of the strategic forces and can “overcome the most modern missile defense system.” However, Ivanov said the decision to continue deploying the SS-20 was “in no way connected” to the American withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.

US not to reduce nuclear arsenal to Moscow Treaty levels (March 2004) The United States will not cut its nuclear arsenal to levels designated by an arms accord it concluded two years ago with Russia because it must hedge against an uncertain future, a top administration official announced.
The Moscow Treaty signed with great fanfare by Presidents George W. Bush of the United States and Vladimir Putin of Russia in May 2002 calls on both sides to reduce their strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012.
But it refers to “operationally deployed” weapons, essentially offering both governments a loophole that allows them to move an unlimited number of warheads into storage and keep them indefinitely under lock and key.
While US officials have often praised this option, Wednesday’s remarks by Undersecretary of Energy Linton Brooks before the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces represented the first official indication the Bush administration had actually decided to exercise it.

2002 – 2005: United States New Imperialist Posture

As most Americans know by now, “neoconservatives” are big government expansionists tied to right wing Israeli extremists who promote U.S. and Israeli expansionism, in the Middle East and worldwide. Project for The New American Century, perhaps the most infamous of the “neoconservative think tanks,” issued in 1997 an imperialist manifesto Rebuilding America’s Defenses which states that no nation should gain military superiority over the United States and chillingly states: “…the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing even – like a new Pearl Harbor.” It followed the 1996 paper written by most of the same individuals for then Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu called Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It details how the United States will be used to realize Israel’s extremist goals of retaining conquered Palestinian territories and pacifying the Middle East to protect Israel – no matter what it costs Americans.

The policies of neoconservatives who held power in the early years of Bush’s administration led to the current Iraq war and occupation, which has cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. The cost which probably will hit a trillion dollars before it ends. And even now Israel and the neoconservatives are pushing Bush to attack Iran. Americans from street activists to former presidents are finally beginning to rebel against this unholy alliance of right wing ideologues and the pro-Israel lobby.

On January 8, 2002 the Department of Defense submitted to Congress its Nuclear Posture Review Report which for the first time named countries, besides Russia, the U.S. might find it necessary to attack with nuclear weapons, i.e., China, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. In September 2002 President George Bush released the updated The National Security Strategy of the United States. As the articles below make clear, the policy stated that the United States would use any means necessary to prevent any country or group of countries to challenge the United States’ dominance of the world–even if it means pre-emptive strikes using nuclear weapons. On December 10, 2002 the White House released a six-page strategy document that reiterated that if enemies used weapons of mass destruction the United States would respond with nuclear weapons. These three documents clearly outlined the United States new, defacto imperialist posture. In 2005 Bush released an updated National Security Strategy which expanded on these precepts. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation compares the 1994 and 2002 Nuclear Posture Reviews. In 2006 Bush released another version which was more in line with the multilateral approach of past administrations. However, given Bush’s continuing aggressive talk towards Iran and Russia, one must wonder which strategy he truly agrees with.

Bush Shifts Strategy From Deterrence to Dominance Washington Post September 2002
In a muscular new statement of U.S. strategic priorities, President Bush declared yesterday that the United States must maintain unchallenged military superiority to win the fight against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that now pose the greatest threat to U.S. national security…
Possessing “unprecedented — and unequaled — strength and influence in the world,” it begins, and “sustained by faith in the principles of liberty and the value of a free society,” the United States also has “unparalleled responsibilities, obligations and opportunities. The great strength of this nation must be used to promote a balance of power that favors freedom.”….

From Paranoia to Arrogance: Our New Nuclear Policy by Ryan McMaken (August 2002)
Only the most bloodthirsty hawks of the Cold War ever planned to establish nuclear arsenals as anything other than a deterrent, and it was never an option to use nuclear weapons on a country that did not possess its own nuclear weapons. The “first strike” option was never really considered a viable option by any American president, and nuclear weapons were only to be used if it was clear that millions of American deaths were an inevitability. Such was the noble insanity of the Cold War.
Fast forward to 2002, and we find that things have changed considerably. In February, someone at the Pentagon who had not yet completed the transformation into a complete sociopath leaked the “Nuclear Posture Review” which outlined plans for a nuclear “end game” with Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria, none of which possess nuclear weapons. The report also outlined plans to let the missiles fly on Russia and China as well, even though virtually everyone on the face of the Earth thought we had actually normalized relations with them. It turns out, much to the surprise of the Chinese and the Russians, that they are still potential enemies in a nuclear holocaust.
The biggest change in nuclear policy however, has been the movement away from a “last resort” mentality on nuclear weapons to a “first strike” mentality. The neo-conservative hawks and their allies in Washington have been pushing for years to develop low yield nuclear weapons.
Today, without any military rival, and with no nuclear power making professions of ill will toward the United States, we have developed plans for the utter destruction of friends and enemies alike, and have developed weapons for use in first strike nuclear attacks in case they prove necessary as a “pre-emptive” measure, or if some adversary threatens our “National Interest” as defined by Donald Rumsfeld. The moral bankruptcy here ought to astound all who confront it, but then, the United States government abandoned the moral high ground a long time ago.

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy
In the March/April 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs Magazines political science professors Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press wrote an article “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy.” Its summary reads:
For four decades, relations among the major nuclear powers have been shaped by their common vulnerability, a condition known as mutual assured destruction. But with the U.S. arsenal growing rapidly while Russia’s decays and China’s stays small, the era of MAD is ending — and the era of U.S. nuclear primacy has begun.
To determine how much the nuclear balance has changed since the Cold War, we ran a computer model of a hypothetical U.S. attack on Russia’s nuclear arsenal using the standard unclassified formulas that defense analysts have used for decades. We assigned U.S. nuclear warheads to Russian targets on the basis of two criteria: the most accurate weapons were aimed at the hardest targets, and the fastest-arriving weapons at the Russian forces that can react most quickly. Because Russia is essentially blind to a submarine attack from the Pacific and would have great difficulty detecting the approach of low-flying stealthy nuclear-armed cruise missiles, we targeted each Russian weapon system with at least one submarine-based warhead or cruise missile. An attack organized in this manner would give Russian leaders virtually no warning.

After a later description of the model they used to come to their conclusions, the authors note: To be clear, this does not mean that a first strike by the United States would be guaranteed to work in reality; such an attack would entail many uncertainties. Nor, of course, does it mean that such a first strike is likely. But what our analysis suggests is profound: Russia’s leaders can no longer count on a survivable nuclear deterrent. And unless they reverse course rapidly, Russia’s vulnerability will only increase over time. China’s nuclear arsenal is even more vulnerable to a U.S. attack.

They ask: Is the United States intentionally pursuing nuclear primacy? Or is primacy an unintended byproduct of intra-Pentagon competition for budget share or of programs designed to counter new threats from terrorists and so-called rogue states? Motivations are always hard to pin down, but the weight of the evidence suggests that Washington is, in fact, deliberately seeking nuclear primacy. For one thing, U.S. leaders have always aspired to this goal. And the nature of the changes to the current arsenal and official rhetoric and policies support this conclusion.

As evidence they detail impressive improvements to the U.S. nuclear arsenal and note: The intentional pursuit of nuclear primacy is, moreover, entirely consistent with the United States’ declared policy of expanding its global dominance. The Bush administration’s 2002 National Security Strategy explicitly states that the United States aims to establish military primacy: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” To this end, the United States is openly seeking primacy in every dimension of modern military technology, both in its conventional arsenal and in its nuclear forces.

2007: Tensions Rise Again Between the United States and Russia over Missile Defense and Iran

In March 2007, the U.S. announced plans to build an anti-ballistic missile missile defense installation in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, both relatively near the Russian borders. American officials said that the system was intended to protect the United States and Europe from possible nuclear missile attacks by far off Iran or North Korea. Russia naturally saw this as a way of making a U.S. first strike easier. In response Russia tested a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile which it claimed could defeat any defense system. In June 2007, Putin warned that if the U.S. built the installations, Russia would target missiles at Poland and the Czech Republic.

On October 16, 2007, Vladimir Putin visited Iran to discuss Russia’s aid to Iran’s nuclear power program and “insisted that the use of force was unacceptable.” On October 17, Bush stated “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” understood as a message to Putin. On October 26 Putin compared U.S. plans to put up a missile defense system near Russia’s border as analogous to when the Soviet Union deployed missiles in Cuba, prompting the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the US and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war in 1962.

This doubtless was a reference to Israel’s “Samson Option” – its willingness to use nuclear weapons against not only enemy Arab and Muslim nations but even against nations which have given them diplomatic or military support. This would include Russia, which would promptly attack the United States back. It is unclear if Bush agrees with this threat or has been bullied by Israel into accepting its reality. See Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail.

* Israeli Nuclear Threats and Blackmail
* Six Escalation Scenarios to Nuclear War
* Nuclear War Progression (photos/graphics)
* Preventing and Surviving Nuclear War – LINKS
* Nuclear War Photos, Films, Video Links

The Samson Option Still Threatens the World
by Carol Moore, December 2009 version
(Please LINK only; do not mirror. Content changes frequently.)
When is Israel most likely to use nukes? See “Sunspot Cycles and Activist Strategy”

(collected from various sources)

1949: French and Israel atomic researchers start to exchange information. Israeli Defence Force Science Corps begins two year geological survey of the Negev desert in search of recoverable Uranium.

1952: Israeli Atomic Energy Commission is created. Its chairman, Ernst David Bergmann of Israel’s Weizman Institute of Science, “the father of Israel’s bomb,” has been promoting nuclear armed missiles for Israel since arriving after World War II. Newly elected President Eisenhower will refuse to sell arms to Israel during his two terms, ending in 1960. France sells them to Israel from 1955 to 1967.

Israeli nuclear plant at Dimona, top. Mordechai Vanunu photo bottom. More Vanunu photos from inside Dimona here.

1955: Under Atoms for Peace program, overseen by pro-Israel Lewis Stauss who was head of America’s Atomic Energy Commission, U.S. helps fund a small Israeli nuclear research reactor. Strauss learned about Dimona and its purpose before the U.S. government but did not inform the U.S. government.

1953: Israeli researchers perfect a process for extracting Uranium, and developing a new method of producing heavy water, which is a key ingredient in the process. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be raised to build Israel’s nuclear bomb over the next twenty years, mostly from American Jews; effort is led by Abraham Feinberg who financially backs both Presidents Truman and Johnson, as well as presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. (John F. Kennedy accepts his money but is incensed by the pro-Israel lobbying.)

1956: France and Israel formally and secretly agree to build a nuclear reactor in the Negev desert. Britain, France and Israel invade Egypt (Suez Canal crisis) and the Soviet Union threatens to use rockets against them if they do not desist, leading to a cease-fire. U.S. begins U-2 spy flights over targets world wide, including Israel.

1957: France and Israel sign a revised agreement calling for France to build a 24 MWt reactor; unwritten was the agreement to build a plutonium reprocessing plant.

1958: Israel breaks ground at Dimona, with assistance of French scientists and contractors, and U-2 spy planes provide evidence Israelis are building nuclear plant there.

1960: Israeli scientists witness first French atomic explosion in South Pacific. French President Charles DeGaulle threatens to cut off reactor fuel if Israel doesn’t accept international inspections, but eventually accepts Israel’s assertions Dimona is only for peaceful purposes and work continues. United States intelligence leaks to the press that Israel is building a secret nuclear facility that will eventually produce a nuclear bomb. Israel admits this to its Parliament and world but claims it is only for peaceful purposes.

1961: President Kennedy makes the man who leaked Israel’s bomb to the press head of the CIA. Kennedy is very opposed to Israel having the bomb and tells Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion so in many letters and in meeting in New York about the purpose of Dimona. Ben-Gurion tells him its purpose is peaceful and refuses to allow international inspections. Israel launches its first rocket.

1962: Ben-Gurion allows inspections by American inspectors only in return for sales of Hawk surface-to-air missiles. Israel builds a fake control room and bricks off parts of buildings to hide from inspectors the true size and purpose of the reactor (three times bigger than admitted) and that it was connected to a plutonium reprocessing plant; this feint continues during seven such inspections until they end in 1969. Reactor at Dimona goes into operation.

1963: Kennedy refuses to sign any security arrangement with Israel. After Kennedy assassination brings the very pro-Israel Lyndon Johnson to power. (Not surprisingly there is an assassination conspiracy theory that the Mossad killed Kennedy.)

1964: Dimona plutonium processing plant goes online. In first official visit by an Israeli Prime Minister (Eshkol) to Washington, Johnson promises Israel offensive fighter jets and other weapons if it refrains from producing nuclear weapons. Israel’s Eshkol eventually agrees to Johnson’s terms and holds off on producing the bomb for a few years. China explodes first nuclear bomb.

1965: Israel performs its first plutonium extraction, and France assists Israel in developing its Jericho missiles.

1966: U.S. begins fighter jet and arms shipments to Israel. Johnson discourages further reports on Israel nuclear situation from U.S. embassy in Israel. Israel refuses money for nuclear desalination plant which is tied to international inspections of Dimona.

1967: Six Day War when Israel pre-emptively attacks an Egyptian military buildup in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel attacks USS Liberty surveillance vessel, killing 34 sailors; (see BBC allegation below that Israelis wanted to instigate a U.S. nuclear attack on Cairo). Soviet Union supports Arabs militarily, sends ships to the region and breaks diplomatic ties with Israel. Americans unofficially inform Israel that the Soviet Union has put four Israeli cities on its nuclear target list.

1968: Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, believing Israel cannot depend on the U.S. to defend it, unilaterally orders full production of nuclear weapons, averaging four to twelve per year, depending on size. Israel illicitly imports two hundred tons of uranium.

1969: President Richard Nixon takes office and fully supports Israel’s nuclear weapons, as does his National Security chief Henry Kissinger. Ends American inspections at Dimona and shares some nuclear targeting information about the Soviet Union. CIA tries to inform President Johnson about Dimona, but he brushes off information, signs Nonproliferation Treaty, and sends Israel advanced Phantom fighter jets.

1973: Israelis catch Soviet spy ring in high levels of Israeli government and make it clear to Soviets they have produced “suitcase nukes” they could sneak into Russia. Egypt and Syria attack unprepared Israeli forces in Sinai and Golan Heights on the Jewish fast in Yom Kippur War. Israel goes on nuclear alert and begins to ready nuclear weapons for actual use, forcing the U.S. to airlift them weapons and to start redeploying nuclear armed ships and airplanes. When Soviets started talking about sending in Russian troops, Israel again goes on nuclear alert. Washington pressures Israel to accept a cease-fire.

1974: Defense Minister Dayan visits South Africa to discuss testing a nuclear weapon there.

1975: Israel receives nuclear-capable Lance missiles from the United States, even as U.S. remains in official denial about Israel having nuclear weapons.

1976: South Africa’s Prime Minister visits Israel to sign several nuclear and other agreements.

1977: Menachem Begin’s right wing expansionist Likud Party takes power in Israel and is determined to reshape Middle East to suit Israel’s needs, including through using the nuclear threat. Commits to nuclear targeting of even more cities in the Soviet Union. President Carter does not take on the issue, despite conducting Camp David peace talks between Egypt and Israel.

1979: President Carter provides Israel ability to see American spy satellite photos for defense purposes only, but Israelis manage to get them for pre-emptive strikes against Middle East and Russia. Israel and South Africa explode first nuclear bomb in South Indian Ocean but appointed U.S. committee refuses to conclude it was a nuclear explosion.

1981: Israel, using U.S. spy satellite photos, sends F-16s to bomb and destroy Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction at Osirak. U.S. strictly limits further access to spy photos. Defense Minister Ariel Sharon recruits American Navy employee Jonathan Pollard as a spy to obtain satellite photos plus massive amounts of other classified information about Israel’s enemies, some of which Israel turns over to the Soviet Union to try to win over its adversary. Ariel Sharon talks President Reagan into a formal Israel-U.S. military alliance against the Soviet Union but Defense Chief Weinberger delays and sabotages it.

1982: Under Ariel Sharon’s military leadership, Israel invades Lebanon to attack Palestinian militants as first part of plan to drive Palestinians into Jordan, using the threat of nuclear weapons to intimidate any adversaries. However, despite destroying Beruit and killing more than ten thousand Arabs and 500 Israelis, Sharon’s efforts in Lebanon fail. Israel eventually withdraws and Sharon loses his position.

1985: Jonathan Pollard captured leaving office with stolen papers. Eventually sentenced to life in prison.

1986: Mordechai Vanunu, a disaffected Dimona technician who left with photographs and other evidence of nuclear weapons production, publishes details in the London Sunday Times newspaper; reveals Israel has over 100 nuclear weapons. Israel starts disinformation campaign then lures him to Italy where he is kidnaped, taken to Israel and imprisoned for 18 years. He was released in spring of 2004 and remains under house arrest because of his continuing contact with the media.

1987: Israel test-fires a Jericho 2 missile capable of carrying a nulcear weapon. UN General Assembly and the IAEA General Conference passes first of more than a dozen resolutions calling on Israel to join the Nonproliferation Treaty.

1988: Israel launches its first spy satellite into orbit.

1991: U.S. convinces Israel to refrain from attacking Iraq with nuclear weapons, even if Iraq uses chemical or biological weapons against it, but Israel’s nuclear weapons remain on alert.

1999: US Department of Energy document ranks Israel sixth among countries with nuclear weapons.

2000: Knesset debates Israel’s nuclear weapons program for first time. Germany sells Israel three state-of-the-art 800-class Dolphin submarines and Israel tests first submarine-launched missile in the area of the Indian Ocean. Ariel Sharon is elected Prime Minister of Israel, still intending to use nuclear weapons to bully other nations and remake the Middle East for the benefit of Israel. George Bush is elected in the United state and his neoconservative allies fully intend that the United States help Sharon fulfill that mission. Right wing Israelis begin freely talking about attacking other nations, including with nuclear weapons.

2001: Bush inflames Arabs by clearly taking sides with Israel’s expansionist aims, part of the reason for the September 11 attacks against the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. He obsesses about attacking Iraq, not defending America against known Al Queda terrorists. Starts planning war against Iraq after September 11 attacks, including option of using nuclear weapons.

2002: George Bush gives Israel the go-ahead to use nuclear weapons against Iraq if Saddam attacks Israel before the American invasion of Iraq. Pentagon Office of Special Plans uses information from Iraqi dissidents and Israel’s Mossad to convince Americans that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction that are an imminent threat against America. Israel launches Ofek-5 satellite with a powerful new inter-continental missile.

2003: Israel repeatedly demands sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program and threatens to bomb Iran’s operating nuclear power plant, despite Iran’s threats to retaliate hard against Israel. Russia may have sold Iran additional advanced missiles capable of shooting down Israeli bomber and fighter jets. Russian President Putin proposes Security Council formally call for establishment of a Palestinian state and arrests last of the Jewish “oligarchs” who bought state industries for pennies on the dollar under Yeltsin. Arab and other nations repeatedly ask that Israel nuclear facilities come under international inspections. So does the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammed el-Baradei. United Nations General Assembly passes resolution that Israel join the nonproliferation treaty by a vote of 164-4. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tells Israeli newspaper that Israel will not dismantle its “special measures” because the U.S. will not remain in the Middle East forever.

2004: Israel buys two more German submarines for delivering nuclear tipped cruise missiles, making a total of five. Mordechai Vanunu’s prison term ends 2004 but Israel keeps putting him in prison and or under house arrest for trying to speak to others outside the country on nuclear issues and for wanting to leave Israel permanently. The phrase the “Samson Option” is used to describe Israel’s strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against “enemy” nations should its existence as a Jewish state be jeopardized through military attack. Israeli leaders created the term in the mid-1960s, inspired by the Biblical figure Samson, who destroyed a Philistine temple, killing himself and thousands of Philistine enemies.[1][2]

Israel refuses to admit officially that it has nuclear weapons – a policy known as “nuclear ambiguity” or “nuclear opacity.”[3] This despite government officials inferring repeatedly – and occasionally admitting – the fact. And despite Israeli nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu making public smuggled photographs of nuclear weapons and production equipment in the 1980s.[4] Israel now may have as many as 400 atomic and hydrogen nuclear weapons,[5][6] as well as the ability to launch them via long range missiles, submarines and aircraft.[7] It can use them in a second strike even if its military is devastated.

Originally a strategy of last resort retaliation – even if it means Israel’s annihilation – it has developed into being a nuclear bullying strategy to further Israel’s territorial goals through threats and blackmail. Israel has bullied not only Arab and Muslim nations, but the United States and Russia with its Samson Option threats. Mordechai Vanunu has alleged that Israel uses for purposes of blackmail its ability to “bombard any city all over the world, and not only those in Europe but also those in the United States.”[8]

Official policy and threats

During the 1960s Israel concentrated on conventional military superiority to defend lands confiscated in the 1948 and 1967 wars – and to convince Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories that they could not break free of it. However, in 1973’s Yom Kippur War Israel was almost overwhelmed by Arab forces. Prime Minister Golda Meir authorized a nuclear alert, ordering 13 atomic bombs be prepared for missiles and aircraft. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Simha Dinitz threatened “very serious conclusions” if there was not an immediate airlift of supplies.[9] This forced U.S. President Richard Nixon to make emergency airlifts of state of the art military supplies to Israel.[10][11]

Fearing intervention by the Soviet Union, U.S. forces went on Defense Condition (DEFCON) III alert status[12], something which could have led to full scale nuclear war in case of misinterpretation of signals or hardware or software failures. Additionally, as Seymour Hersh documents in detail in his book The Samson Option, from 1973 these weapons have been used to discourage the Soviet Union – now Russia – from intervening militarily on behalf of Arab nations.[13] Obviously an Israeli nuclear attack on Russia by the United States’ great ally Israel would result in Russia sending thousands of nuclear weapons towards the U.S. and the U.S. responding in kind.

Not surprisingly, no nation state has attempted to attack Israel since 1973. A former Israeli official justified Israel’s threats. “You Americans screwed us” in not supporting Israel in its 1956 war with Egypt. “We can still remember the smell of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Next time we’ll take all of you with us.”[14] General Moshe Dayan, a leading promoter of Israel’s nuclear program[15], has been quoted as saying “Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”[16] Amos Rubin, an economic adviser to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, said “If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”[17]

In 1977, after a right-wing coalition under Menachen Begin took power, the Israelis began to use the Samson Option not just to deter attack but to allow Israel to “redraw the political map of the Middle East” by expanding hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers into the West Bank and Gaza.[18] Then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon said things like “We are much more important than (Americans) think. We can take the middle east with us whenever we go”[19] and “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”[20] He proclaimed his – and many Likud Party members’ – goals of transforming Jordan into a Palestinian state and “transferring” all Palestinian refugees there.[21][22] A practice known worldwide as “ethnic cleansing.”

To dissuade the Soviet Union from interfering with its plans, Prime Minister Begin immediately “gave orders to target more Soviet cities” for potential nuclear attack. Its American spy Jonathan Pollard was caught stealing such nuclear targeting information from the U.S. military in 1985.[23]

During the next 25 years Israel became more militarily adventurous, bombing Iraq’s under-construction Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, invading Lebanon to destroy Palestinian refugee camps in 1982 and to fight Hezbollah in 2006, massively bombing civilian targets in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp in 2002 and thoughout Gaza in 2008-2009. There are conflicting reports about whether Israel went on nuclear alert and armed missiles with nuclear weapons during the 1991 Gulf War after Iraq shot conventionally armed scud missiles into it.[24][25]

In 2002, while the United States was building for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threatened that if Israel was attacked “Israel will react. Is it clear?”[26] Israeli defense analyst Zeev Schiff explained: “Israel could respond with a nuclear retaliation that would eradicate Iraq as a country.” It is believed President Bush gave Sharon the green-light to attack Baghdad in retaliation, including with nuclear weapons, but only if attacks came before the American military invasion.[27]

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has admitted that nuclear weapons are used by Israel for “compellent purposes” – i.e., forcing others to accept Israeli political demands.[28] In 1998 Peres was quoted as saying, “We have built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima, but to have an Oslo,” referring to imposing a settlement on the Palestinians.[29]

In her book Israel’s Sacred Terrorism Livia Rokach documented how Israelis have used religion to justify paramilitary and state terrorism to create and maintain a Jewish State.[30] Two other Israeli retaliation strategies are the popularized phrase “Wrath of God,” the alleged Israeli assassination of those it held responsible for the 1972 killings of Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics[31], and the “Dahiya doctrine” of destruction of civilian areas to punish Palestinians for supporting their leaders.[32]

Israeli Israel Shahak wrote in 1997: “Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”[33] Zeev Schiff opined in 1998 that “Off-the-cuff Israeli nuclear threats have become a problem.”[34] In 2003 David Hirst noted that “The threatening of wild, irrational violence, in response to political pressure, has been an Israeli impulse from the very earliest days” and called Israel a candidate for “the role of ‘nuclear-crazy’ state.”[35] Noam Chomsky said of the Samson Option “the craziness of the state is not because the people are insane. Once you pick a policy of choosing expansion over security, that’s what you end up getting stuck with.”[36] Efraim Karsh calls the Samson Option the “rationality of pretended irrationality,” but warns that seeming too irrational could encourage other nations to attack Israel in their own defense.[37]

Samson Option Supporters

Two Israel supporters are frequently quoted for their explicit support of the Samson Option. Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been quoted as saying: “Most European capitals are targets for our air force….We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”[38]


Israeli Israel Shahak wrote in 1997: “Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”[



In 2002 the Los Angeles Times, published an opinion piece by Louisiana State University professor David Perlmutter in which he wrote: “What would serve the Jew-hating world better in repayment for thousands of years of massacres but a Nuclear Winter. Or invite all those tut-tutting European statesmen and peace activists to join us in the ovens? For the first time in history, a people facing extermination while the world either cackles or looks away–unlike the Armenians, Tibetans, World War II European Jews or Rwandans–have the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?”[39]



The Israelis also are egged on in its nuclear threats by “Christian Zionists” like Hal Lindsay who believe Israel must expand its control of territory to its Biblical borders in order to bring about Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ.[43] Some suspect that former President George W. Bush holds such beliefs,[44] especially after his November 2007 statement “If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon.”[45]

Israeli Threats Against Iran

Israel’s threats to use nuclear weapons, including preemptively, have increased greatly since the revelation in 2002 that Iran was building uranium enrichment facilities. That year Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demanded that the international community target Iran as soon as it was finished dealing with Iraq.[46]

Unlike Israel, Iran has accepted supervision of its nuclear program under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran claims its program is only for production of nuclear power as oil becomes more scarce and expensive, and not for nuclear weapons. However, Israel opposes any challenge to its nuclear hegemony since not only would it be less able to use its nuclear threat to keep confiscated lands, but fear of Iran actually might cause citizens to leave Israel and investment to dry up.[47][48] Israel also must worry about other “enemy” Arab nations which already are seeking or soon may seek nuclear energy.[49]

In 2004 Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel would consider “all options” to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons.[50] Rumors and warnings of an impending Israeli attack on Iran’s facilities, including possibly with nuclear weapons, have circulated repeatedly since that time.[51][52]

Meanwhile, Israel still considers Russia a target because of its technical assistance to Iran’s nuclear program and its continued arms sales to Iran and other “enemy” nations.[53] [54][55] In 2007 Israeli officials warned Russia: “We hope they understand that this is a threat that could come back to them as well.”[56]

In 2005 George Bush admitted that the U.S. would support an Israeli attack on Iran.[57] Soon after his election President Barak Obama seemed to accept the inevitability of an Iranian nuclear bomb.[58] However, in early 2009 Likud Party hawk Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Israeli Prime Minister. Netanyahu already had threatened that Israel would attack Iran to stop its nuclear program if Obama did not do so.[59] Considering Iran’s threats to retaliate, this easily could lead to a “Samson Option” scenario.[60][61] After May[62] and September meetings with Netanyahu in 2009, Obama threatened Iran with attack if it did not “come clean about” and curb its nuclear program.[63][64] This statement came a day after Netanyahus’ speech to the United Nations where he invoked the memory of Auschwitz and family members slain by Nazis.[65] Obama also has suffered constant pressure to take a more belligerent stand against Iran from neoconservatives and the “Israel lobby.”[66][67][68][69]

Too few peace or political activists, left or right, are willing to challenge Israel’s Samson Option threats or even to make a nuclear free Middle East a central demand.[70] Until military and political leaders, as well as activists, are willing to change U.S. policy of defacto support for Israel’s Samson Option the whole world remains a potential victim of this horrific strategy.
* * *
Note: If you see some resemblance to the wikipedia article on the Samson Option, I also worked on that and contributed many of the same facts from many of the same sources.
Also, my comments on the “Samson Option” were quoted in the New York Sun, September 2005.
* * *


1. Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, Random House, 1991, pp. 42, 136-137, 288-289.

2. Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, Columbia University Press, 1998, pp. 2, 7, 341 and Avner Cohen, “Israel’s Nuclear Opacity: a Political Genealogy,” published in The Dynamics of Middle East Nuclear Proliferation, pp. 187-212, edited by Steven L. Spiegel, Jennifer D. Kibbe and Elizabeth G. Matthews. Symposium Series, Volume 66, The Edwin Mellen Press, 2001.

3 Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, p. 1-3.

4. Peter Hounam, Woman From Mossad: The Torment of Mordechai Vanunu, Vision Paperbacks, 1999, pp. 155-168.

5. Harold Hough, “Could Israel’s Nuclear Assets Survive a First Strike?” Jane’s Intelligence Review, September, 1997, pp. 407-410.

6. “U.S. Air Force: Israel has 400 nukes, building naval force,” World Tribune, July 4, 2002

7. Douglas Frantz, “Israel Adds Fuel to Nuclear Dispute, Officials confirm that the nation can now launch atomic weapons from land, sea and air,” Los Angeles Times, Sunday, October 12, 2003.

8. “Vanunu Confirms Israel’s Global Thermonuclear Blackmail,” An Interview With Hesham Tillawi, PhD, December 19, 2009.

9. Seymour Hersh, pp. 225-227; Avner Cohen, p. 236 and Mark Gaffney, Dimona, The Third Temple:The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, 1989, Amana Books, p. 147.

10. Warner D. Farr, “The Third Temple’s Holy of Holies: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons.” Counterproliferation Paper No. 2, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College, September 1999.

11. Avner Cohen, “The Last Nuclear Moment,” The New York Times, 6 October 2003.

12. Federation of American Scientists web page on DEFCON DEFense CONdition.

13. Seymour Hersh, pp. 17, 40, 66, 174-75, 177, 216, 220, 223-231.

14. Seymour Hersh, p. 42

15. Seymour Hersh, p. 174-180

16. David Hirst, “The War Game, a controversial view of the current crisis in the Middle East,” The Observer Guardian, September 21, 2003.

17. Mark Gaffney, p. 153.

18. Seymour Hersh, 259-261.

19. Seymour Hersh, 289.

20. Mark Gaffney, p. 165.

21. Encyclopedia of Orient on Likud Party and Elfi Pallis, “The Likud Party: A Primer,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1992.

22. Seymour Hersh, pp. 288-289.

23. Seymour Hersh, p. 260.

24. Avigdor Haselkorn, The continuing storm: Iraq, poisonous weapons and deterrence, Yale University Press, 1999 131-135.

25. David Eberhart, “Samson Option: Israel’s Plan to Prevent Mass Destruction Attacks,” NewsMax.Com, October 16, 2001.

26.Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson and Danielle Haas, “Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Israel,” London Times, November 5, 2002.

27. Ross Dunn, “Sharon eyes ‘Samson option’ against Iraq,” Scotsmann, November 3, 2002.

28. Mark Gaffney, p. 131

29. Warner D. Farr online article, op cit.

30. Livia Rokach, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, Third Edition, Association of Arab American University Graduates,1986.

31. “Operation Wrath of God” article in Wikipedia.

32. “The Dahiya strategy,” including interview with IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot,Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet News), June 10, 2008.

33. Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, Pluto Press, 1997, p. 2.

34. “United States Information Agency’s Foreign Media Reaction Report, Middle East section, February 4, 1998,” reprinted at GlobalSecurity.org..

35. David Hirst article, op cit.

36. Transcript of Noam Chomsky talk: “Assessing the Role of US Foreign Policy, Israeli Security, & Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” April 7, 2009 Madison, WI. Youtube Video of talk.

37. Efraim Karsh, Between war and peace: dilemmas of Israeli security, Routledge, 1996 pp.130-131.

38. David Hirst article, op cit

39. David Perlmutter, Opinion Page piece “Israel: Dark Thoughts and Quiet Desperation,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2002.

40. Louis Rene Beres, “Israel and Samson. Biblical Insights on Israeli Strategy in the Nuclear Age,” March 22, 3004; Beres, et al. Project Daniel final report; “The world, of course, continues to begrudge the Jewish state: Israel and Palestine, the Samson Option” Canada Free Press, March 31, 2009.

41. Jerome Corsi, Atomic Iran, Chapter: “The Samson Option, Israel’s Preemptive Strike,” WND Books, 2005, and
Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran, Simon and Schuster, p. 101, 2009.

42. Jerome Corsi, Atomic Iran, op cit.

43. See Hal Lindsay on the Samson Option: The Samson Option, July 14, 2007 at StandingWithIsrael.org and “Prophesied destruction of Damascus imminent?”, WorldNetDaily.Com, September 21, 2007.

44. Michael Ortiz Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Bush’s Armageddon Obsession, Revisited,” Counterpunch.org, January 4, 2003.

45. “Bush defends World War Three comments on Iran,” Reuters, Nov 7, 2007.

46. Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson and Danielle Haas, “Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Israel,” London Times, November 5, 2002.

47. Roger Howard, “Why Israel Really Fears Iranian Nukes,” Antiwar.com, November 27, 2004.

48. “Nuclear Shadow over the Middle East,” PalestineChronicle, May 11, 2009.

49. Stuart Reigeluth, “Race to ultimate arms,” Weekly Ahram.org, 14-20 August 2008, Issue No. 910.

50. “Israel Takes Issue With Iran Weapons,” Yahoo News, September 29, 2004.

51. “Israeli Defence Minister Calls For Calm Over Rumoured Attack On Iran Jerusalem,” Agence-France Presse, December 22, 2004.

52. Jason Ditz, “Israel Preparing to Attack Iran Without US Assistance,” Antiwar.com, December 4, 2008.

53. Alan Sabrosky, “Bibi Netanyahu: a Knave of Ghosts and Shadows,” Salem-News.com, October 5, 2009.

54. Michael Jasinski, “Russia’s Nuclear and Missile Technology Assistance to Iran; Nasser Karimi, Russian Fuel Ready for Iran,” Associated Press, September 16, 2007 and Robert Tait, Mark Tran, “Putin warns US against military action on Iran,” The Guardian, October 16, 2007.

55. Herb Keinon, “Jerusalem sees Russian interests behind arms sales to Damascus,” The Jerusalem Post, August 20, 2007

56. Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon, “Israel warns Russia on Iran arms sale,” Jerusalem Post, January 16, 2007

57. Francis Harris, “America would back Israel attack on Iran,” The Telegraph February 18, 2005.

58. Aluf Benn, “Obama’s atomic umbrella: U.S. nuclear strike if Iran nukes Israel,” Haaretz, November 12, 2008.

59. Jeffrey Goldberg, “Netanyahu to Obama: Stop Iran—Or I Will,” The Atlantic, March 31, 2009.

60. Michael Theodoulou, “Iran threatens to set Israel ablaze as fears grow of US-backed war,” Scotsman, July 9, 2008.

61. “Iran threatens to strike Israel’s nuclear sites if attacked,” Daily Star, December 10, 2009.

62. Jason Ditz, “Obama Emphasizes Iran ‘Threat’ on Eve of Netanyahu Visit,” Antiwar.com, May 17, 2009.

63. Jason Ditz, “Netanyahu Leads Calls for Harsh Moves Against Iran,” Antiwar.com, September 24, 2009.

64. Jason Ditz, “Obama: Iran Is on Notice, Won’t Rule Out Military Action,” Antiwar.com, September 25, 2009.

65. Text of Netanyahu speech before the United Nations, September 24, 2009.

66. Stephen J. Sniegoski, “Obama and the Neocon Middle East War Agenda,” Antiwar.com, March 21, 2009.

67. Daniel Luban, “Under Pressure from Hawks, Obama Tacks to the Right,” Inter Press Service, August 12, 2009.

68. Robert Parry, “Is Joe Lieberman Protecting Israel?” originally published in ConsortiumNews.com, December 15, 2009.

69. Stephen M. Walt, “On Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Lobby: A response to Peter Beinart,” ForeignPolicy.com, December 9, 2009.

70. John Steinbach, “Israeli Weapons of Mass Destruction, A Threat to Peace: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal,” GlobalResearch.Ca, March 2002.



Global Research, January 7, 2007
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), globalresearch.ca, 3 March 2002 and DC Iraq Coalition


This carefully research article by John Steinbach on Israel’s nuclear arsenal was first published by Global Research in March 2003

“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.” Seymour Hersh(1)

“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Ariel Sharon(2)

With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publically recognized as such.. Since the Gulf War in 1991, while much attention has been lavished on the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the major culprit in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing chemical and biological weapons, an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and an aggressive strategy for their actual use, Israel provides the major regional impetus for the development of weapons of mass destruction and represents an acute threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. The Israeli nuclear program represents a serious impediment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and, with India and Pakistan, is a potential nuclear flashpoint.(prospects of meaningful non-proliferation are a delusion so long as the nuclear weapons states insist on maintaining their arsenals,) Citizens concerned about sanctions against Iraq, peace with justice in the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament have an obligation to speak out forcefully against the Israeli nuclear program.
Birth of the Israeli Bomb

The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1940s under the direction of Ernst David Bergmann, “the father of the Israeli bomb,” who in 1952 established the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. It was France, however, which provided the bulk of early nuclear assistance to Israel culminating in construction of Dimona, a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing factory situated near Bersheeba in the Negev Desert. Israel had been an active participant in the French Nuclear weapons program from its inception, providing critical technical expertise, and the Israeli nuclear program can be seen as an extension of this earlier collaboration. Dimona went on line in 1964 and plutonium reprocessing began shortly thereafter. Despite various Israeli claims that Dimona was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory,” the extreme security measures employed told a far different story. In 1967, Israel shot down one of their own Mirage fighters that approached too close to Dimona and in 1973 shot down a Lybian civilian airliner which strayed off course, killing 104.(3) There is substantial credible speculation that Israel may have exploded at least one, and perhaps several, nuclear devices in the mid 1960s in the Negev near the Israeli-Egyptian border, and that it participated actively in French nuclear tests in Algeria.(4) By the time of the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973, Israel possessed an arsenal of perhaps several dozen deliverable atomic bombs and went on full nuclear alert.(5)

Possessing advanced nuclear technology and “world class” nuclear scientists, Israel was confronted early with a major problem- how to obtain the necessary uranium. Israel’s own uranium source was the phosphate deposits in the Negev, totally inadequate to meet the need of a rapidly expanding program. The short term answer was to mount commando raids in France and Britain to successfully hijack uranium shipments and, in1968, to collaborate with West Germany in diverting 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide).(6) These clandestine acquisitions of uranium for Dimona were subsequently covered up by the various countries involved. There was also an allegation that a U.S. corporation called Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) diverted hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium to Israel from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.

Despite an FBI and CIA investigation, and Congressional hearings, no one was ever prosecuted, although most other investigators believed the diversion had occurred(7)(8). In the late 1960s, Israel solved the uranium problem by developing close ties with South Africa in a quid pro quo arrangement whereby Israel supplied the technology and expertise for the “Apartheid Bomb,” while South Africa provided the uranium.

South Africa and the United States

In 1977, the Soviet Union warned the U.S. that satellite photos indicated South Africa was planning a nuclear test in the Kalahari Desert but the Apartheid regime backed down under pressure. On September 22, 1979, a U.S. satellite detected an atmospheric test of a small thermonuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa but, because of Israel’s apparent involvement, the report was quickly “whitewashed” by a carefully selected scientific panel kept in the dark about important details. Later it was learned through Israeli sources that there were actually three carefully guarded tests of miniaturized Israeli nuclear artillery shells. The Israeli/South African collaboration did not end with the bomb testing, but continued until the fall of Apartheid, especially with the developing and testing of medium range missiles and advanced artillery. In addition to uranium and test facilities, South Africa provided Israel with large amounts of investment capital, while Israel provided a major trade outlet to enable the Apartheid state avoid international economic sanctions.(9)

Although the French and South Africans were primarily responsible for the Israeli nuclear program, the U.S. shares and deserves a large part of the blame. Mark Gaffney wrote (the Israeli nuclear program) “was possible only because (emphasis in original) of calculated deception on the part of Israel, and willing complicity on the part of the U.S..”(10)

From the very beginning, the U.S. was heavily involved in the Israeli nuclear program, providing nuclear related technology such as a small research reactor in 1955 under the “Atoms for Peace Program.” Israeli scientists were largely trained at U.S. universities and were generally welcomed at the nuclear weapons labs. In the early 1960s, the controls for the Dimona reactor were obtained clandestinely from a company called Tracer Lab, the main supplier of U.S. military reactor control panels, purchased through a Belgian subsidiary, apparently with the acquiescence of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.(11) In 1971, the Nixon administration approved the sale of hundreds of krytons(a type of high speed switch necessary to the development of sophisticated nuclear bombs) to Israel.(12) And, in 1979, Carter provided ultra high resolution photos from a KH-11 spy satellite, used 2 years later to bomb the Iraqi Osirak Reactor.(13) Throughout the Nixon and Carter administrations, and accelerating dramatically under Reagan, U.S. advanced technology transfers to Israel have continued unabated to the present.

The Vanunu Revelations

Following the 1973 war, Israel intensified its nuclear program while continuing its policy of deliberate “nuclear opaqueness.” Until the mid-1980s, most intelligence estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal were on the order of two dozen but the explosive revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician working in the Dimona plutonium reprocessing plant, changed everything overnight. A leftist supporter of Palestine, Vanunu believed that it was his duty to humanity to expose Israel’s nuclear program to the world. He smuggled dozens of photos and valuable scientific data out of Israel and in 1986 his story was published in the London Sunday Times. Rigorous scientific scrutiny of the Vanunu revelations led to the disclosure that Israel possessed as many as 200 highly sophisticated, miniaturized thermonuclear bombs. His information indicated that the Dimona reactor’s capacity had been expanded several fold and that Israel was producing enough plutonium to make ten to twelve bombs per year. A senior U.S. intelligence analyst said of the Vanunu data,”The scope of this is much more extensive than we thought. This is an enormous operation.”(14)

Just prior to publication of his information Vanunu was lured to Rome by a Mossad “Mata Hari,” was beaten, drugged and kidnapped to Israel and, following a campaign of disinformation and vilification in the Israeli press, convicted of “treason” by a secret security court and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He served over 11 years in solitary confinement in a 6 by 9 foot cell. After a year of modified release into the general population(he was not permitted contact with Arabs), Vanunu recently has been returned to solitary and faces more than 3 years further imprisonment. Predictably, The Vanunu revelations were largely ignored by the world press, especially in the United States, and Israel continues to enjoy a relatively free ride regarding its nuclear status. (15)

Israel’s Arsenal of Mass Destruction

Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, cruise missiles, land mines(In the 1980s Israel planted nuclear land mines along the Golan Heights(17)), and artillery shells with a range of 45 miles(18). In June, 2000 an Israeli submarine launched a cruise missile which hit a target 950 miles away, making Israel only the third nation after the U.S. and Russia with that capability. Israel will deploy 3 of these virtually impregnable submarines, each carrying 4 cruise missiles.(19)

The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”

Israel also possesses a comprehensive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. According to the Sunday Times, Israel has produced both chemical and biological weapons with a sophisticated delivery system, quoting a senior Israeli intelligence official, “There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon . . .which is not manufactured at the Nes Tziyona Biological Institute.”)(20) The same report described F-16 fighter jets specially designed for chemical and biological payloads, with crews trained to load the weapons on a moments notice. In 1998, the Sunday Times reported that Israel, using research obtained from South Africa, was developing an “ethno bomb; “In developing their “ethno-bomb”, Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive a gene carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus… The scientists are trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes.” Dedi Zucker, a leftist Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament, denounced the research saying, “Morally, based on our history, and our tradition and our experience, such a weapon is monstrous and should be denied.”(21)

Israeli Nuclear Strategy

In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a “weapon of last resort,” to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case. Whatever truth this formulation may have had in the minds of the early Israeli nuclear strategists, today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy. As Seymour Hersh says in classic understatement ; “The Samson Option is no longer the only nuclear option available to Israel.”(22) Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union(and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”(23) (In 1983 Sharon proposed to India that it join with Israel to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities; in the late 70s he proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to Tehran to prop up the Shah; and in 1982 he called for expanding Israel’s security influence to stretch from “Mauritania to Afghanistan.”) In another example, Israeli nuclear expert Oded Brosh said in 1992, “…we need not be ashamed that the nuclear option is a major instrumentality of our defense as a deterrent against those who attack us.”(24) According to Israel Shahak, “The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is.” and “Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states…. Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…, without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”(25)

Israel uses its nuclear arsenal not just in the context of deterrence” or of direct war fighting, but in other more subtle but no less important ways. For example, the possession of weapons of mass destruction can be a powerful lever to maintain the status quo, or to influence events to Israel’s perceived advantage, such as to protect the so called moderate Arab states from internal insurrection, or to intervene in inter-Arab warfare.(26) In Israeli strategic jargon this concept is called “nonconventional compellence” and is exemplified by a quote from Shimon Peres; “acquiring a superior weapons system(read nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”(27) From a slightly different perspective, Robert Tuckerr asked in a Commentary magazine article in defense of Israeli nukes, “What would prevent Israel… from pursuing a hawkish policy employing a nuclear deterrent to freeze the status quo?”(28) Possessing an overwhelming nuclear superiority allows Israel to act with impunity even in the face world wide opposition. A case in point might be the invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Beirut in 1982, led by Ariel Sharon, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, most civilian. Despite the annihilation of a neighboring Arab state, not to mention the utter destruction of the Syrian Air Force, Israel was able to carry out the war for months at least partially due to its nuclear threat.

Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, head of the French A-bomb project wrote “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, ‘If you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us; otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.'”(29) During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel. The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying, at the time, “If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and…we will have to draw very serious conclusions…”(30) Just one example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said “If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”(31) Since then Israel’s nuclear arsenal has expanded exponentially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while the U.S. money spigots remain wide open.

Regional and International Implications

Largely unknown to the world, the Middle East nearly exploded in all out war on February 22, 2001. According to the London Sunday Times and DEBKAfile, Israel went on high missile alert after receiving news from the U.S. of movement by 6 Iraqi armored divisions stationed along the Syrian border, and of launch preparations of surface to surface missiles. DEBKAfile, an Israeli based “counter-terrorism” information service, claims that the Iraqi missiles were deliberately taken to the highest alert level in order to test the U.S. and Israeli response. Despite an immediate attack by 42 U.S. and British war planes, the Iraqis suffered little apparent damage.(32) The Israelis have warned Iraq that they are prepared to use neutron bombs in a preemptive attack against Iraqi missiles.

The Israeli nuclear arsenal has profound implications for the future of peace in the Middle East, and indeed, for the entire planet. It is clear from Israel Shahak that Israel has no interest in peace except that which is dictated on its own terms, and has absolutely no intention of negotiating in good faith to curtail its nuclear program or discuss seriously a nuclear-free Middle East,”Israel’s insistence on the independent use of its nuclear weapons can be seen as the foundation on which Israeli grand strategy rests.”(34) According to Seymour Hersh, “the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force.”(35) General Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, former Israeli Chief of Staff is quoted “It is never possible to talk to Iraq about no matter what; It is never possible to talk to Iran about no matter what. Certainly about nuclearization. With Syria we cannot really talk either.”(36) Ze’ev Shiff, an Israeli military expert writing in Haaretz said, “Whoever believes that Israel will ever sign the UN Convention prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons… is day dreaming,”(37) and Munya Mardoch, Director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry, said in 1994, “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of Vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.”(38)

As Israeli society becomes more and more polarized, the influence of the radical right becomes stronger. According to Shahak, “The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some some of the delerious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons…cannot be precluded. …while israeli jewish society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.”(39) The Arab states, long aware of Israel’s nuclear program, bitterly resent its coercive intent, and perceive its existence as the paramount threat to peace in the region, requiring their own weapons of mass destruction. During a future Middle Eastern war (a distinct possibility given the ascension of Ariel Sharon, an unindicted war criminal with a bloody record stretching from the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Quibya in 1953, to the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and beyond) the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons should not be discounted. According to Shahak, “In Israeli terminology, the launching of missiles on to Israeli territory is regarded as ‘nonconventional’ regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas.”(40) (Which requires a “nonconventional” response, a perhaps unique exception being the Iraqi SCUD attacks during the Gulf War.)

Meanwhile, the existence of an arsenal of mass destruction in such an unstable region in turn has serious implications for future arms control and disarmament negotiations, and even the threat of nuclear war. Seymour Hersh warns, “Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.”(41) and Ezar Weissman, Israel’s current President said “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum(and the) next war will not be conventional.”(42) Russia and before it the Soviet Union has long been a major(if not the major) target of Israeli nukes. It is widely reported that the principal purpose of Jonathan Pollard’s spying for Israel was to furnish satellite images of Soviet targets and other super sensitive data relating to U.S. nuclear targeting strategy. (43) (Since launching its own satellite in 1988, Israel no longer needs U.S. spy secrets.) Israeli nukes aimed at the Russian heartland seriously complicate disarmament and arms control negotiations and, at the very least, the unilateral possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is enormously destabilizing, and dramatically lowers the threshold for their actual use, if not for all out nuclear war. In the words of Mark Gaffney, “… if the familar pattern(Israel refining its weapons of mass destruction with U.S. complicity) is not reversed soon- for whatever reason- the deepening Middle East conflict could trigger a world conflagration.” (44)

Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies. Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.” Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.



1. Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, New York,1991, Random House, p. 319 (A brilliant and prophetic work with much original research)2

2. Mark Gaffney, Dimona, The Third Temple:The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Brattleboro, VT, 1989, Amana Books, p. 165 (Excellent progressive analysis of the Israeli nuclear program)

3. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Warner D. Farr, The Third Temple Holy of Holies; Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College Sept 1999 <www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/farr,htm (Perhaps the best single condensed history of the Israeli nuclear program)

4. Hersch, op.cit., p. 131

5. Gaffney, op.cit., p. 63

6. Gaffney, op. cit. pp 68 – 69

7. Hersh, op.cit., pp. 242-257

8. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, pps. 65-66 (An alternative discussion of the NUMEC affair)

9. Barbara Rogers & Zdenek Cervenka, The Nuclear Axis: The Secret Collaboration Between West Germany and South Africa, New York, 1978, Times Books, p. 325-328 (the definitive history of the Apartheid Bomb)

10. Gaffney, op. cit., 1989, p. 34

11. Peter Hounam, Woman From Mossad: The Torment of Mordechai Vanunu, London, 1999, Vision Paperbacks, pp. 155-168 (The most complete and up to date account of the Vanunu story, it includes fascenating speculation that Israel may have a second hidden Dimona type reactor)

12. Hersh, op. cit., 1989, p. 213

13. ibid, p.198-200

14. ibid, pp. 3-17

15. Hounman, op. cit. 1999, pp 189-203

16. Hersh, 1989. pp.199-200

17. ibid, p. 312

18. John Pike and Federation of American Scientists, Israel Special Weapons Guide Website, 2001, Web Address http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/index.html (An invaluable internet resource)

19. Usi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi, Fears of New Arms Race as Israel Tests Cruise Missiles, June 18, 2000, London Sunday Times

20. Usi Mahnaimi, Israeli Jets Equipped for Chemical Warfare October 4, 1998, London Sunday Times

21. Usi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, Israel Planning "Ethnic" bomb as Saddam Caves In, November 15, 1998, London Sunday Times

22. Hersh, op.cit., 1991, p. 319

23. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p. 163

24. Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, London, 1997,Pluto Press, p. 40 (An absolute "must read" for any Middle East or anti-nuclear activist)

25 ibid, p.2

26. ibid, p.43

27. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p 131

28. "Israel & the US: From Dependence to Nuclear Weapons?" Robert W. Tucker, Novenber 1975 pp41-42

29. London Sunday Times, October 12, 1986

30. Gaffney, op. cit. 1989. p. 147

31. ibid, p. 153

32. DEBKAfile, February 23, 2001 WWW.debka.com

33. Uzi Mahnaimi and Tom Walker, London Sunday Times, February 25, 2001

34. Shahak, op. cit., p150

35. Hersh, op.cit., p. 319

36. Shahak, op. cit., p34

37. ibid, p. 149

38. ibid, p. 153

39. ibid, pp. 37-38

40. ibid, pp 39-40

41. Hersh, op. cit., p. 19

42. Aronson, Geoffrey, "Hidden Agenda: US-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question," Middle East Journal, (Autumn 1992), 619-630.

43 . Hersh, op. cit., pp. 285-305

44. Gaffney, op. cit., p194


Orignial URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/STE203A.html

Global Research Articles by John Steinbach





  1. Israel and Samson. Biblical Insights on Israeli Strategy in the Nuclear Age.
    Louis Rene Beres
    Professor of International Law
    Israel may learn from Samson, not to “die with the Philistines,”(1) but to live despite its enemies. How is this possible? The biblical Samson, blinded but not powerless, could destroy the Philistines only by inflicting his own death. And Israel is not blind, nor is it powerful in the sense of a physical strength born of religious faith joined with desperation. What, then, is there for Israel to learn from this hero of the post-Pentateuchal Book, Judges?

    First, Israel can learn that it must prepare to take hold of the enemy temple pillars, not because “last resort” options are of overriding importance in themselves (they are not of such importance), but because preparations for such options could make last resort scenarios for Jerusalem less likely. By taking steps to “die with the Philistines,” Israel would do far more than prepare for the Apocalypse. Enhancing Israel’s nuclear deterrence, preemption and warfighting capabilties, such steps could even push away the Final Battle, preserving the Jewish State by demonstrating national power and resolve.

    Regarding prospective contributions to Israeli nuclear deterrence, preparations for a Samson Option could help convince would-be attackers that aggression would not prove gainful. This is especially the case if Israeli preparations were coupled with some level of nuclear disclosure, and if Israel’s pertinent Samson weapons appeared to be sufficiently invulnerable to enemy first-strikes. In view of what strategists sometimes refer to as the “rationality of pretended irrationality,” Samson could also aid Israeli nuclear deterrence by demonstrating a willingness to take existential risks, but this would hold only if last-resort options were not tied definitionally to certain destruction.

    Regarding prospective contributions to preemption, preparations for a Samson Option could convince Israel that essential defensive first-strikes would be undertaken with diminished expectations of unacceptably destructive enemy retaliations. This would depend, of course, upon antecedent Israeli decisions on disclosure,(2) on Israeli perceptions of the effects of disclosure on enemy retaliatory prospects, and on Israeli judgments about enemy perceptions of Samson weapons vulnerability. As in the case of Samson and Israeli nuclear deterrence, last-resort preparations could assist Israel’s preemption options by displaying a willingness to take certain existential risks. But Israeli planners must be mindful here of pretended irrationality as a double-edged sword. Brandished too “irrationally,” Israeli preparations for a Samson Option could even encourage enemy preemptions.

    Regarding prospective contributions to Israel’s nuclear warfighting options, preparations for a Samson Option could convince enemy states that a clear victory would be impossible to achieve; that is, that even after overwhelming the Jewish State and its military forces these states would face their own overwhelming destruction. But here it would be important for Israel to communicate to potential aggressors the following understanding: Israel’s “Samson” weapons are additional to (not at the expense of) its warfighting weapons. In the absence of such communication, preparations for a Samson Option could effectively impair rather than reinforce Israel’s nuclear warfighting options.

    Second, Israel can learn from Samson the mortal dangers of exploited vulnerabilities. Like Samson, the Jewish State possesses great strength. And like Samson, this strength can be blunted or even be “cut off” altogether. Israel’s national power, of course, does not lie in any one single part of its “anatomy,” but its constituent elements are vulnerable nonetheless. These elements can be rendered inoperable.

    What, then, is the “lesson” here from Samson? More than anything else, it is that Israel draws power from the land, from the essential strategic depth(3) provided by Judea, Samaria and the Golan, and from the territorial imperative to secure conventional and unconventional retaliatory forces from enemy first-strikes. In the absence of secure retaliatory forces, Israel’s deterrence posture could be eroded to intolerable limits.

    It follows that Israel’s Oslo/Road Map policy of incremental territorial concessions – a policy that has always flowed from a misguided conception of the so-called “Peace Process” – is a policy that would only destroy Israel’s power. Eliminating strategic depth and preventing secure retaliatory forces, this policy would encourage large-scale enemy aggressions against Israel, both conventional and unconventional. It is a policy, therefore, that ignores an important lesson from Samson.

    Should Israel choose, instead, to learn from Samson, it will strenuously guard its sources of power. Rather than accepting further excisions of its already attenuated land mass, an acceptance that would impair strategic depth to an unmanageable degree and encourage enemy “preemptive” strikes, it will insist upon no additional territorial concessions. Recognizing that international law is not a suicide pact, its leaders will acknowledge forthrightly that Israel has a primary obligation to survive, an obligation owed to both its current citizens and to those earlier generations of Jewish victims who now sleep in the dust.

    Israel must never be ashamed of its own power. Nor must it continue to project only its own reasonable intentions upon enemy leaderships. Recalling from Samson the terrible consequences of powerlessness – consequences brought on not by irresisitible external forces but by Samson’s own foolishness and misjudgments – leaders of the Jewish State must now preserve and prepare to use all vital elements of national power. In military terms, these elements include indispensable land mass and appropriate forms of nuclear weaponry.

    Should Israel’s Oslo/Road Map-based surrender of land mass lead to creation of a Palestinian state,(4) a clear loss of geostrategic power would be exacerbated by a less tangible, but no less important, power loss. I refer to the loss attendant upon the probable Arab and Iranian perception of an incessant and now unstoppable momentum against the Jewish State, a jihad-centered perception of military inevitability that might not represent a measurable loss of power but that would nonetheless reinforce and reiterate enemy advantages. Recognizing such perceptions, Israel could decide to take its bomb out of the “basement” (as a deterrence-enhancing measure) and/or it could accept a greater willingness to launch preemptive strikes against enemy hard targets. Made aware of such Israeli reactions, reactions that would stem from both Israel’s territorial vulnerabilities and from Israel’s awareness of enemy perceptions spawned by the creation of Palestine, Arab states and/or Iran could respond in more-or-less parallel fashion, preparing more openly for nuclearization and for first-strike attacks. Such results of the “Peace Process” would almost certainly increase Israel’s overall dependence upon nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy.

    Such dependence, inter alia, could focus upon the requirements of nuclear warfighting.(5) This is the case because the “Peace Process” will enlarge Israel’s needs for nuclear weapons to fullfil deterrence and preemption options, and because these options might not be fulfilled successfully. That is, deterrence and preemption strategies could fail, even though they had been supported by nuclear weapons. Here, Israel’s continued survival could then require the weapons and tactics needed for nuclear warfighting, a requirement which, by definition, would represent a diminution of Israel’s power.

    Among the probable paths to nuclear warfighting in the Middle East are the following: (1) enemy nuclear first-strikes against Israel (not a present possibility); (2) enemy non-nuclear WMD first-strikes against Israel that elicit Israeli nuclear reprisals, either promptly or as a consequence of incremental escalation processes; (3) Israeli nuclear preemptions against hard targets in enemy states with nuclear assets (not a present possibility); (4) Israeli non-nuclear preemptions against hard targets in enemy states with nuclear assets that elicit enemy nuclear reprisals, either promptly or via incremental escalation processes (not a present possibility); and (5) Israeli non-nuclear preemptions against hard targets in enemy states without nuclear assets that elicit substantial enemy biological warfare reprisals and, reciprocally, Israeli nuclear counter-retaliations. Other pertinent paths to nuclear warfighting in the region include accidental/unintentional/inadvertent/unauthorized nuclear attacks between Israel and enemy states. Here we must also consider the prospect of escalation arising from WMD terrorism against Israel.

    As long as it may be assumed that Israel is determined to survive, there are conditions where the Jewish State might become involved in nuclear warfighting. This holds true so long as: (a) enemy first-strikes against Israel would not destroy Israel’s second-strike nuclear capability; (b) enemy retaliations for an Israeli conventional preemption would not destroy Israel’s nuclear counter-retaliatory capability; (c) Israeli preemptive stikes involving nuclear weapons would not destroy enemy second-strike nuclear capabilities (not presently a concern); and (d) Israeli retaliation for enemy conventional first-strikes would not destroy enemy nuclear counter-retaliatory capabiltiies (not a present concern either). This means, from the standpoint of Israel’s nuclear requirements, that Jerusalem should now prepare to do what is needed to ensure the liklelihood of (a) and (b) above, and the unlikelihood of (c) and (d).

    To maintain a viable power position in the Middle East, an obligation that may be learned from Samson, Israel must maintain at all times the preemption option. But as this option would be undermined by the Oslo/Road Map peace process (Israel, after all, would be generally identified as the “aggressor” should it preempt while “peace” were in the process of being negotiated), that process impairs such maintenance. It follows that Israel, still learning from Samson, should hold on to its essential sources of power by rejecting this kind of peace process and by simultaneously protecting the nuclear weapons needed for supporting the preemption option.

    Why are nuclear weapons needed for such support? Three general answers come to mind.

    Israel needs nuclear weapons to preempt enemy nuclear attacks. This does not mean that Israeli preemptions of such attacks would necessarily be nuclear (more than likely, they would, in fact, be nonnuclear), but only that they could be nuclear.(6)

    Israel needs nuclear weapons to support conventional preemptions against enemy nuclear assets. With such weapons, Israel could maintain, explicitly or implicitly, a threat of nuclear counterretaliation. Without such weapons, Israel, having to rely entirely upon nonnuclear forces, might not be able to deter enemy retaliations for the Israeli preemptive strike.

    Israel needs nuclear weapons to support conventional preemptions against enemy nonnuclear (conventional/chemical/biological) assets. With such weapons, Israel could maintain, explicitly or implicitly, a threat of nuclear counterretaliation. Without such weapons, Israel, having to rely entirely upon nonnuclear forces, might not be able to deter enemy retaliations for the Israeli preemption.

    Third, Israel can learn from Samson that all world politics, and all global strategy, move in the midst of death. To truly understand calculations of war, deterrence, preemption and defense, Israel’s leaders will need to understand (1) enemy orientations to death, both individual and collective; and (2) Israeli orientations to death, both individual and collective. Faced with enemies for whom personal death would be not only acceptable but agreeable, Israel could discover that its deterrent had been immobilized and that Third Temple Commonwealth survival was now dependent upon some more or less feasible configuration of preemption and active defenses.

    Samson, we recall, ultimately faced death with resignation and some equanimity, but it was not his preferred option. Like Samson, Israel could conceivably reach a point where it would be willing to “die with the Philistines,” but such a point, quite obviously, should be scrupulously avoided. Indeed, the Jewish State must now do everything within its power to avoid ever having to implement a Samson Option. For Israel, there can never be any intrinsic merit in death, either individual or collective.

    Some of Israel’s enemies, on the other hand, may operate with different preference orderings concerning life and death. If, for example, an Iranian jihad were contemplated against Israel, such a “holy war” could reflect fundamentally different orientations to personal and collective sacrifice. It is not even out of the question that a strongly fundamentalist leadership in Teheran ordering such a jihad could regard certain Israeli nuclear reprisals as tolerable or even desirable. Recognizing this prospect, possibly with the help of Samson, Israel could learn the limits of its nuclear deterrent before it is too late.

    To a significant extent, the existential problems facing the State of Israel stem from human inclinations in enemy states to rebel against an unbearable truth. Desperate to live perpetually, various portions of humankind embrace an entire cornucopia of faiths that promise life everlasting in exchange for undying loyalty. In the end, such loyalty is transferred from faith to state, which then battles with other states in what political scientists and strategists mistakenly describe as a secular struggle for power, but which is sometimes much more.

    Fourth, Israel can learn from Samson that there are advantages to concrete imaginings of catastrophe. For now, the Jewish State, it seems, can contemplate the end of the Third Temple Commonwealth every day, and yet can persevere quite calmly in its most routine and mundane affairs. This should not be the case if Israel could begin to contemplate the actual moment of its disappearance. Israel, therefore, should begin immediately to replace reassuringly abstract conceptualizations of End Times with unbearably precise images of horror.

    Sapere aude! “Dare to know!” This motto for the Enlightenment acquires special meaning in Israel’s ongoing struggle to endure. Just as repression of the fear of death by individuals can occasion activities that impair the forces of self-preservation, so can Israel impair its opportunities for collective survival by denying the real possibility of national destruction.

    In geostrategic terms, there are no convincing assurances that Israel is forever. On the contrary, the State of Israel has never been as vulnerable to disappearance as it is at the present moment. Faced with an altogether unique combination of enemy capabilities and enemy intent, Jerusalem could soon face a more immediate genocidal danger than that faced earlier by millions of individual European Jews. The Nazis, after all, were never capable of destroying several hundred thousand lives in a fraction of a second, of wreaking megadeath without first acquiring bodily custody of victim populations.

    In what surely must be the most terrible irony of all, Israel, as a solution to what Herzl called “The Jewish Question,” has made millions of Jews more vulnerable to genocidal assault. By being concentrated into a tiny area, these Jews (as well as many non-Jews living within the green lines), are now uniquely subject to mass murder. Once targeted by enemy ballistic missiles with unconventional warheads, these Jews could be subject to more or less prompt annihilation in a manner that would certainly be sui generis.




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