Secrecy News

Israel as a Nuclear Power

A 2008 Defense Department study of future national security trends seems to have escaped many of the conventional filters that normally limit the candor of such public documents.

As previously noted, the Joint Operational Environment 2008 (JOE 2008) study set off alarms in South Korea because of its discussion of North Korean nuclear weapons and it aggravated Mexican officials with its consideration of potential political instability in that country.  (“DoD Future Trend Study Provokes Foreign Reaction,” Secrecy News, March 5.)

But JOE 2008 also departed from the norm in U.S. Government documents by identifying Israel as a nuclear weapons state.

“In effect, there is a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east,” JOE 2008 stated (pdf, at page 37) in a discussion of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The unusual reference to Israel’s nuclear status was noticed by Amir Oren in Ha’aretz, who explained that “Israel’s nuclear program is rarely, if ever, explicitly mentioned in public, unclassified U.S. official documents.”  See “U.S. Army document describes Israel as ‘a nuclear power’,” Ha’aretz, March 8.