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Israel doesn’t even admit to having nuclear weapons, which makes it harder to discuss getting rid of them. It has been fully substantiated that Israel does in fact have nuclear weapons.[1] Every other country with nuclear weapons wants their adversaries to know about it and to be “deterred” by it, so Israel’s secrecy is somewhat baffling.[2]

Israel is a very small and compact country. It is only 6 miles across at its narrowest point, meaning that even the smallest nuclear weapon launched at a neighboring country would irradiate some of Israel’s own population. Having said all that, Israel is probably the last country that will be willing to give up its nuclear weapons. Israel has consistently refused to enter into negotiations for a nuclear-free or WMD-free Middle East,[3] or even to discuss its nuclear weapons.

As with Russia and North Korea, Israel isn’t likely to part with its nuclear weapons until there is a wider security agreement across the whole region, backed by a reliable means of enforcing it. An effective security agreement would guarantee peace not just between Israel and a few isolated Arab kingdoms, but peace between all the countries of the region. The US has a crucially important role to play in this, not only as Israel’s military ally and multi-billion-dollar benefactor, but as the potential peacemaker.

[1] See: Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. (2020, March 31). Fact Sheet: Israel’s Nuclear Inventory.

[2] The Glenn Amendment, passed by the US Congress in 1977, prevents US arms sales to any country deemed to possess nuclear weapons outside of the NPT. If Israel were to admit to possessing nuclear weapons, that would theoretically cut off their largest supplier of military aid, so both countries continue to pretend that Israel does not have nuclear weapons and the US military aid continues to flow. See

[3] NTI. (2023, January 23). Nuclear disarmament Israel. The Nuclear Threat Initiative.