News Release

Israel Silently Lapping Field in “Mideast Nuclear Arms Race”


At a news conference this afternoon, President Obama defended the recent agreement with Iran, saying: “Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East, and other countries in the region would feel compelled to pursue their own nuclear programs, threatening a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.”

Most U.S. political and media commentary about the agreement has given substantial voice to Israeli reaction, for example quoting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu about Iran: “Today a terrorist nuclear superpower is born, and it will go down as one of the darkest days in world history.” All the while, Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal — estimated at between 60 to 400 nuclear weapons has been virtually ignored. Israel, unlike Iran and all Arab countries, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

GRANT F. SMITH, gsmith at, @IRmep
Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. He said today: “This whole idea of talking about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East without admitting who’s racing is bizarre. You can’t talk about a race without admitting that some have not only left the starting line, but have lapped the field.”

Grant has used the Freedom of Information Act and initiated a lawsuit to obtain U.S. documents relating to Israel’s nuclear weapons program. See from Courthouse News: “DOD Report Details Israel’s Quest for Hydrogen Bomb.”

Grant wrote the piece “U.S. Confirmed Existence of Israeli H-Bomb Program in 1987,” which states: “The 1987 report’s confirmation of Israel’s advanced nuclear weapons program should have immediately triggered a cutoff in all U.S. aid to Israel under the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act. …

“Under two known gag orders — punishable by imprisonment — U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program. GEN-16 is a ‘no-comment’ regulation on ‘classified information in the public domain.’ ‘DOE Classification Bulletin WPN-136 on Foreign Nuclear Capabilities’ forbids stating what 63.9 percent of Americans already know — that Israel has a nuclear arsenal.”

Also see Smith’s piece “Lawsuit Challenges U.S. ‘Ambiguity’ Toward Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal,” which states: “Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear analyst James Doyle wrote candidly about Israel’s nuclear weapons for a magazine in 2013. After a congressional staffer read the article, which had passed a classification review, it was referred to classification officials for a second review. Doyle’s pay was then cut, his home computer searched, and he was fired.”

Smith also wrote the piece “Poll: Netanyahu Should be Investigated for Nuclear Weapons Tech Smuggling Before U.S. Visit,” which states: “In 2012 the FBI declassified and released files … of its investigation into how 800 nuclear weapons triggers were illegally smuggled from the U.S. to Israel. According to the FBI, the Israeli Ministry of Defense ordered nuclear triggers (krytrons), encrypted radios, ballistic missile propellants and other export-prohibited items through a network of front companies. Smuggling ring operations leader Richard Kelly Smyth alleged that Netanyahu worked at one of the fronts — Heli Trading owned by confessed spy and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan — and met with him frequently to execute smuggling operations.” See from the Guardian: “Arnon Milchan reveals past as Israeli spy.”

Background: At his first news conference at the White House in February 2009, Obama was asked if he knew of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons. Obama replied that he didn’t want to “speculate.” See: “Netanyahu’s Nuclear ‘Chutzpah’ — As U.S. Government Releases Documents on Israel’s Nukes.”