News Release

Why Won’t the U.S. Acknowledge Israel’s Nuclear Weapons?


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meets with U.S. President Bush today and speaks to a joint meeting of both chambers of Congress on Wednesday.

The U.S. government does not publicly acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Vanunu is a former Israeli nuclear technician who in 1986 revealed through The Sunday Times of London the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons. He said today: “The nuclear weapons in the Mideast are not in Iraq, they are not in Iran — they are in Israel. … The Middle East is now moving towards a nuclear weapons race; with Iran moving to do what Israel produced in the last 40 years. I did my best 20 years ago to prevent this situation of a future nuclear weapons war in the Middle East. The best solution for the Middle East would be if it were free from all nuclear weapons.”

After revealing Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal, Vanunu was kidnapped from Rome and jailed by the Israeli government. For over 11 years, he was in solitary confinement. In April 2004, he was released from prison but continues to be under severe travel limits and other restrictions. Said Vanunu: “I hope the Israeli government will respect my human rights and let me leave. I want to go to the United States.” Vanunu, who is in Jerusalem, has been frequently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
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Norris is senior research associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council and director of the Nuclear Weapons Databook Project. He said today: “Israel has nuclear weapons and has probably had them for more than 30 years. The standard estimate is 100 nuclear weapons. The U.S. government does not publicly acknowledge that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, though it’s clear from declassified archival documents that the U.S. government was concerned about this going back to the Kennedy administration.” Norris is co-editor of the Nuclear Weapons Databook series, a five-volume encyclopedia of nuclear weapons; he also co-writes the “Nuclear Notebook” column for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167