Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Israel has 80-90 nukes, SIPRI report says, as Tel Aviv continues to accuse Iran of nuclear obsession
Published time: 18 Jun, 2019 14:14
Israel, which routinely accuses Iran of trying to obtain nuclear weapons and pledges to use force to stop Tehran, maintains its own undeclared nuclear arsenal estimated at 80 to 90, according to the latest report by SIPRI.
There are nine nations in the world that currently have nuclear weapons, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says in its newly released yearbook on the state of armaments and international security. The world nuclear stockpile went from 14,465 at the beginning of last year to about 13,865 this year, the report estimates, as the US and Russia were delivering on their promises under the New START Treaty signed in 2010.
Israel, which maintains a policy of neither confirming nor denying the possession of nuclear weapons, has between 80 and 90 warheads in its stockpile, the same as the year before, the institute said.
It comes as tensions between Iran on one side, and the US and regional ally Israel on the other, continue to mount. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s unsinkable prime minister, has for years waged a campaign accusing the Iranians of having unwavering nuclear ambitions, regardless of the evidence, or lack thereof.
In 2012, the Israeli leader famously brought a diagram to a UN General Assembly session, purporting to show Iran’s progress in acquiring a nuclear device, with a literal red line drawn on it. With Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Israel has doubled down on the theatrical approach, treating the world to a tall tale about a daring spy operation that managed to steal troves of nuclear documents from a secret warehouse in Tehran. The presentation was meant to prove Tehran’s duplicity, though experts pointed out that most of the documents revealed were old and known to Iran watchers.
Back then, Iran fired back, saying that “no arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons program.”
Netanyahu’s latest jab at Iran came last week. The prime minister said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was “accelerating its nuclear program,” suggesting that it proves Tehran poses a threat.
The IAEA indeed confirmed that Iran was on a path to exceed the limit of uranium stockpile set by the nuclear deal, just as Iran said it would. Tehran said the move was in response to the US’ withdrawal from the agreement more than a year ago, as well as the failure of the EU to circumvent American sanctions against companies that dare to do business in Iran.
Published time: 18 Jun, 2019 14:54Edited time: 18 Jun, 2019 15:00
US President Donald Trump said he would consider military action against Iran to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons. The row between Tehran and Washington escalated after the US accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers.
“I would certainly go over nuclear weapons,” Trump told Time Magazine on Tuesday when asked what would make him consider declaring war on Iran. “And I would keep the other a question mark.”
The report did not specify whether the president elaborated on the scenario of launching a full-fledged armed conflict with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program. When a reporter asked Trump if he was considering military action against Iran right now, he replied: “I wouldn’t say that. I can’t say that at all.”
His remarks came a day after the Pentagon said that it will deploy 1,000 extra troops to the Middle East “for defensive purposes.” The US blamed Iran for the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Washington released a grainy video, allegedly showing Iranian sailors removing a limpet mine from one of ship’s hull, but did not provide any other evidence to support its case. Tehran rebuffed the allegations, saying that it had nothing to do with the incidents.
Also on Tuesday, Iran announced that, in just 10 days, it would increase its uranium stockpiles beyond the limits allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. The US pulled out of the agreement last year and re-imposed sanctions on Iran. Officials in Tehran say they will return to full compliance with the deal if the EU, another signatory of the agreement, reaffirms its commitments.