Unraveling the Myth of Opacity: How Israel's Undeclared Nuclear Arsenal Destabilizes the Middle East

By Timothy Miklos

Abstract: This article assesses the utility and effectiveness of Israel’s nuclear deterrent and its policy of opacity. The research will show that Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal has not increased Israel’s security and has actually been a destabilizing force in the region in four ways. First, Egypt knew of Israel’s nuclear arsenal when it invaded in 1973, which shows that Israeli deterrence failed. Second, Israel’s nuclear status gave Saddam Hussein a strong incentive to pursue a nuclear weapons program in the 1980s and early 1990s. Third, Israel’s nuclear arsenal has led directly to the mass proliferation of chemical weapons in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Fourth, Israel’s policy of nuclear opacity undermines the (NPT) regime since Israel is the only state in the Middle East that is not a signatory. If US policymakers are serious about bringing stability and peace to the region they must pressure Israel to declare its status and sign the NPT. Doing so would not only strengthen the NPT regime but provide greater leverage in convincing Iran to abandon its program.

About the Author
Timothy Miklos is a second year graduate student in Security Policy Studies with a focus on nuclear weapons. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science in 2010. Prior to that, Miklos served for 8 years in the United States Marine Corps, from 1998-2006, in the infantry and as a Marine Security Guard where he guarded US embassies in: Islamabad, Tallinn, and Kampala. Miklos has spent over 5 years of his life abroad in 30 countries. He speaks Russian and has a strong interest in Eurasian security issues.

Photo courtesy of Israel Defense Forces via Flickr.

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Israel hasn't gone to war with any of its neighbors ever since the Yom-Kippur war. Egypt might have known about Israel's arsenal, but not about Israel's willingness to use it; it was only until Israel was about to lose the war that they threatened to use it unless they got additional supplies from the US. You can thank Kissinger for delaying such supplies.

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