For Immediate Release: June 5, 2007
Press Contacts: Miles Pomper, Editor, Arms Control Today (202) 463-8270 x108
(Washington, D.C.): As the world prepares to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli or Six-Day War, this month’s issue of Arms Control Today reveals the previously hidden role that the war played in pushing Israel to become a nuclear weapons power.
Avner Cohen, the foremost expert on Israel’s nuclear weapons history and author of the landmark book Israel and the Bomb, writes that in the stressful days leading up to the conflict, Israel, which already had developed the relevant technology, made the fateful leap to assemble complete nuclear weapons.
Cohen writes that “as far as can be determined, these improvised activities were not a response to any specific political or military request that came from the top, surely not in a response to any specific operational need. These steps were taken because it would have been inconceivable not to take them. The nuclear project was at a historical junction, and it was simply unthinkable for its leaders that, at such a national dire moment, when Israel was facing existential threats, they would sit idle and do nothing.”
Cohen also suggests that the Israeli example may have implications for how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. “New evidence indicates that prior to that war, Israeli leaders were still unsure about their ultimate goals for the program and deeply concerned about world reaction if they were to move forward…. It is likely that Iran today, like Israel before the 1967 war, has taken important technological steps toward a nuclear weapons capability but has delayed making the essential political decision to move forward with such arms,” he writes. “Creative diplomacy may still be able to prevent Tehran from going nuclear.”
Additional information on the Israel's nuclear weapons can be found on ACA’s web site at <http://www.armscontrol.org/country/Israel/>.