Israel has produced 115 nuclear warheads since it began making them in 1963, according to a new study released by the Washington DC-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).
Israel, the report states, has produced 660 kilograms of plutonium within the last 52 years at its Dimona nuclear reactor in the southern Negev Desert.
ISIS believes plutonium production at Dimona began in December of 1963, making Israel the sixth country to successfully develop nuclear weapons after the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China.
According to the ISIS report, the Dimona site contains a number of secret nuclear facilities for the production of plutonium, including a heavy-water reactor, a fuel fabrication plant and a plutonium separation plant — all of which were provided by France in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Israel, the report goes on to assert, has a wide range of warhead delivery systems at its disposal, including ballistic missiles, nuclear-capable cruise missiles and aircraft capable of delivering nuclear payloads.
The study further notes that Israel has a submarine fleet from which it is capable of launching nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
According to ISIS founder David Albright, who wrote the report, Israel continues to maintain a policy of “strategic ambiguity” in regards to its nuclear arsenal, despite the declassification of several U.S. government documents that appear to confirm its existence.
He added that the revelations made by Mordechai Vanunu — a former technician at Dimona — in 1986 had revealed a much vaster Israeli nuclear weapons program than had been commonly assessed at the time.
The true number of Israeli nuclear weapons remains a closely guarded secret.
Other studies have put the number at some 80 deployable warheads.