United States experts have estimated the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal at 80 nuclear warheads. The experts’ assessment was included in the September/October issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The experts said Israel stopped production on nuclear weapons in 2004, but kept enough fissile material to create up to 190 warheads.
In 1999, Israel had 70 warheads, they estimated.
The estimates are lower than previous guesses at the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. In 1986, the Sunday Times estimated Israel’s nuclear arsenal at 100-200 warheads, based on information from former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who was later convicted of treason.
A 2009 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies put Israel’s nuclear arsenal at anywhere from 70 to 400 warheads.
In April 2013, an Arms Control Association report estimated the size of Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal at 75 to 200 warheads.
Israel has a policy of nuclear ambiguity, and is widely assumed by the international community to possess nuclear weapons. Israeli leaders have declined to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was blasted for a 2006 statement indicating that Israel does have nuclear weapons.
United States President Barack Obama came close to challenging Israel's policy of ambiguity in 2010.