Israel has never confirmed or denied possession of nuclear weapons, but according to new report by US experts it has at least 80 operative warheads and has enough material to produce up to 190 more.
In a report published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, nuclear weapon proliferation experts Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen assess that Israel stopped producing nuclear warheads back in 2004 once it reached around 80 munitions.
However, the country can easily double its arsenal since it has enough fissile material to build at least another 115 bombs, experts say.
“There are rumors that Israel is equipping some of its submarines with nuclear-capable cruise missiles,”the report says, echoing the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute yearbook on armament and international security which also suggested Israel could have nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missiles and reported the same assessment of nuke stockpiles.
The suspicions were fueled by the fact that Germany supplied Israel with five Dolphin-class submarines, allegedly capable of launching nuclear missiles, and signed a contract to build a sixth.
It remains unknown how many nuclear warheads of the total inventory could already be deployed, as Israel continues to maintain its long-standing policy of nuclear opacity. In December 2012, Israel once again dismissed the latest demand from the members of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to join the accord.
Israeli stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have come under unusual scrutiny following the US-Russian roadmap for the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, which is seen as a significant step towards a WMD-free region.
Recently declassified CIA documents suggest that Israel secretly built up its own stockpile of chemical and biological weapons decades ago. This has added more fuel to the lingering complaint of Arab states, who constantly accuse Israel of possessing nuclear weapons. Israel remains one of just seven countries which has never ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention as well.
In his speech on Sunday before talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said that “in any case, Israel must be poised and ready to defend itself, by itself, against any threat – and this capability and readiness are more important now than ever.”