Israeli Military Stocks of Fissile Material As of Late 2003

June 30, 2005

Israel has a weapons program which began before 1970, and is still ongoing.

Military Stocks of Fissile Material, end of 2003 (in kilograms)1,2
Unirradiated Plutonium580 (510-650)3
Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)?
Number of Weapons110-190

[Summary Table]

1 From Global Fissile Material Inventories, June 2004.

2 Israel’s plutonium and HEU stocks remain difficult to estimate. The plutonium estimate is based on the Dimona reactor having a power of about 40 megawatts-thermal initially that increased to about 70 megawatts-thermal in the mid-1970s. Although significantly higher reactor powers are discussed publicly, the underlying reactor-based rationale for the higher reactor powers has proven hard to confirm or recreate. For a more detailed discussion, see D. Albright, Frans Berkhout, and William Walker Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996 (Oxford: SIPRI and Oxford University Press, 1997). If the reactor power remained about 40 megawatts-thermal, total plutonium production would have been about 400 kilograms through the end of 2003. Although the reactor is about 40 years old, it is expected to operate for many more years. Public information suggests that Israel has had a gas centrifuge enrichment program, but this information is too spotty to determine whether Israel has a stock of HEU or, if so, its magnitude.

3 The values presented are the median and 5th-95th percentiles (in parentheses), calculated using the forecasting software Crystal BallÆ. This software allows a more systematic and defensible uncertainty analysis.

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