Print Friendly and PDF

Israeli nuclear weapons capability


As of April 2017, Israel is estimated to possess a total of 80 nuclear warheads (Kristensen, Hans M. & Norris, Robert S. 2017). As of late 2014, Israel has around 300 kg of high enriched uranium (HEU) and approximately 860 kg of weapons-grade plutonium (IPFM 2016). To manufacture a nuclear bomb, it requires 12-18kg of HEU or 4-6kg of plutonium. Accordingly, Israel possesses nuclear fissile material equivalent to 159-240 warheads. With higher levels of technical sophistication, however, it is possible to obtain a bomb from 2-4kg plutonium, in which case the same Israeli stockpile would suggest an arsenal of 232-455 warheads (Union of Concerned Scientists 2004). Kristensen and Norris suggest that Israel has not converted all its fissile material into nuclear warheads, and estimate the number of warheads in conjunction with the intelligence on their nuclear weapons delivery capabilities (Kristensen, Hans M. & Norris, Robert S. 2014).

Israel maintains its ‘ambiguity policy’, neither confirming nor denying that it has nuclear weapons. It is said that Israel and South Africa tested a nuclear bomb in the air over the southermost part of the Indian Ocean on September 22, 1979. On December 6, 2013, Avraham Burg, ex-Speaker of the Knesset, delivered a speech in which he acknowledged Israel’s possession of nuclear and chemical weapons (The Times of Israel 2013).

It is thought that Israel, as India and Pakistan do, separately maintain their nuclear warheads and ground-launched missiles. It is possible that nuclear warheads are carried by submarines operating outside Israeli waters (McDonnell 2013). Refer to Note 3.

Updated : June 1, 2017
Click here for pdf version of this table.
Nuclear warheads 80
Breakdown 1)
Ground-launched ballistic missile 50
Airborne weapons 30
Nuclear weapons delivery vehicles 2), 3)
Type / designation Range(km) Payloads(kg) Year first deployed Remarks
Ground-launched ballistic missile
Jericho 2 1,500–1,800 750–1,000 1990 4)
Jericho 3 < 4,000 1,000–1,300 In development 5)
Airborne bomb 6)
F16A/B/C/D/I 1,600 5,400 1980 7)
1) Kile and Kristensen estimate unguided airborne bombs to number 30, with the remainder to be carried by the medium-range Jericho missile (Kile, Shannon N. & Kristensen, Hans M. 2016).
2) Unless specifically stated, the source for information on nuclear weapons delivery range and payloads is Kile & Kristensen (Kile, Shannon N. & Kristensen, Hans M. 2016).
3) Israel is set to deploy six German-made Dolphin-class attack submarines and five of these had been delivered to Israel by late 2015 (Kile, Shannon N. & Kristensen, Hans M. 2016). The German newspaper Spiegel reported on its website in 2012 that Israel has equipped its operational submarines with nuclear cruise missiles (Speagel Online 2012). Israel is reportedly planning to procure three more submarines (The Times of Israel 2016).
4) Solid-propellant. Two-stage. Road-Mobile (Missile Threat 2017). Fifty missiles (Kile, Shannon N. & Kristensen, Hans M. 2016). Expected to be replaced in phases by the Jericho 3 variant through 2026 (Missile Threat 2017).
5) Solid-propellant. Test launch was conducted on November 2, 2011 (SIPRI 2012).
6) It is believed that part of the 25 F15 Strike Eagle aircrafts (called Lahm in Israel) carry out nuclear missions (Schell, Phillip Paton & Kristensen, Hans M. 2014).
7) It is believed that part of the 205 aircraft carry out nuclear missions (Schell, Phillip Paton & Kristensen, Hans M. 2014).
IPFM (International Panel on Fissile Materials) 2016: “Fissile material stocks,” (accessed May 31, 2017)
Kile, Shannon N. & Kristensen, Hans M. 2016: “Israeli nuclear forces,” SIPRI Yearbook 2016 Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford University Press, 2016. pp.653-654.
Kristensen, Hans M. & Norris, Robert S. 2017: “Status of World Nuclear Forces,” Federation of American Scientists. (accessed May 31, 2017)
McDonnell, Timothy 2013: “Nuclear pursuits: Non-P5 nuclear-armed states. 2013,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2013, vol.69 no.1, pp.62–70.
Missile Threat 2017: “Jericho 2,” (accessed May 31, 2017)
Spiegel Online 2012: “Secret Cooperation: Israel Deploys Nuclear Weapons on German-Built Submarines,” 3 June 2012. (accessed May 31, 2017)
Schell, Phillip Paton & Kristensen, Hans M. 2014: “Israeli nuclear forces,” SIPRI Yearbook 2014 Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford University Press, July 2014. pp.333–334.
The Times of Israel 2016: “Israel looks to buy three new nuke-capable subs – report,” 21 October 2016, (accessed May 31, 2017)
Union of Concerned Scientists 2004: “Weapon Materials Basics (2009),” (accessed June 17, 2017)
©RECNA Nuclear Warhead Data Monitoring Team

To the Page Top