Israel's top secret Dimona nuclear facility
New satellite photographs published on the internet indicate that Israel could have made enough plutonium for up to 200 nuclear weapons, US scientists say.
The photographs of the secret Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona in the Negev desert appear on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
The new images were obtained last month by Space Imaging Corporation's Ikonos satellite.
The FAS draws its conclusions from comparisons of the latest images with pictures of the Dimona facility taken by a US reconnaissance satellite in 1971.
Part of the FAS work is to monitor non-conventional weapons capabilities throughout the world.
The pictures "indicate that no new cooling towers were constructed in the years between 1971 and 2000," the FAS report says.
"This strongly suggests that the reactor's power level has not been increased significantly during this period. This would suggest an annual production rate of plutonium of about 20kg."
"Based on plausible upper and lower bounds of the operating practices at the reactor, Israel could have thus produced enough plutonium for at least 100 nuclear weapons, but probably not significantly more than 200 weapons," the FAS said.
The latest pictures have been shown on Israeli television and published in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonoth.
Israeli censorship laws allow local media to quote foreign reports, provided the source is mentioned.
Vanunu: Jailed for 18 years for revealing nuclear secrets
Israel is now the only state with nuclear weapons that does not admit to having such weapons. It has always refused to allow international inspection of the Dimona facility, and is among the few states that have refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Israel maintains what is known as a policy of 'nuclear ambiguity', saying that it will not be the first country to introduce them to the Middle East.
In 1986 Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the site, was jailed for 18 years for providing information about Dimona, including photos published in the UK's Sunday Times.
The Israeli authorities have said they want to question Avner Cohen, an Israeli writer living in self-imposed exile in the United States, in connection with his 1998 book "Israel and the Bomb".
The book argues that there was an Israeli-US understanding that Washington would turn a blind eye to Israel's nuclear programme provided Israel kept a low profile and did not carry out nuclear tests.
The Dimona reactor has been operating since 1965.
The FAS says that by the late 1990s the US intelligence community estimated that Israel possessed 75-130 nuclear weapons.
They would include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, bombs for Israeli aircraft and possibly other tactical nuclear weapons.
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Date: 21 Aug 2013
Larry's support of the anti-Iran-bombing-campaign, stertad by Nakhum Barnea,
is of extraordinary importance. In our fear-ridden vengeful ethos a sober
thought is not popular anymore in the public sphere. Barnea stertad the
powerful Yedioth engine, but neither Maariv nor Haaretz can pursue effective
anti-bombing discussion here, out of different reasons.So Larry's valiant
help comes vital.The most extraordinary thing that astonishes me again and
again is that nobody here speaks of possible Israeli casualties, that could
be thousands upon thousands deaths (God forbid). The virgin Hizb-Allah
bombings of 2006 killed around 50 people and injured hundreds, drove the
government services from the northern-half of the country. A prolonged
Iranian Syriian-Hizb-Allah Jihadi rocketing can bring grave and vast
calamity here. Death may dance here its dance-macabre without limit (God
forbid). There are no preparations for massive and prolonged sitting in
underground shelters here, no drills for food and water and sanitation
supply, no extraordinary acquisition of ambulances and no wide-spread
hospital building, nothing, nothing, nothing, only warmongering on behalf of
immature quasi-adolescent government of Israel. Iran is proclaimed hitler ,
who should be eliminated in 1938 .Mr Netanyahu, his ministers (including the
serious Meridor ) and the journalists all think that one can attack somebody
without (or before) being attacked and command high moral ground. Many as
Netanyahu spit on high moral ground as unnecessary gadget for children (
better a lousy press than an eulogy his own words in the cheering Congress
at its lowest), forgetting that only moral ground may attract devotion
necessary for victory. Netanyahu and his ministers think they can send
people to their death for the holy cause that cause being the preservation
of Judaism , not for the living people. This is playing God with people's
fate. It is lowest and darkest and most despicable level of human behaviour.
Therefore the campaign curr!
ently active should continue in order to drive out from Israeli society that
despicable manner of thinking-God (and voting this way in the elections
too). Iran can be contained as ussr was contained (even without sacrificing
Hungary of 1956). But Israel is so miserable in its policy that we actually
help Iran to erode us.Big and sincere handshakes to Larry and to Barnea, and
to all those who do not forget nobility of spirit Best wishes for good