According to the Associated Press on the 25th, satellite photos show that a secret nuclear facility located at the center of Israel’s undisclosed nuclear weapons program seems to be under way of the largest construction project in decades.
According to the report, the construction area is only a few meters away from the aging reactor of the Negev Nuclear Research Center near the city of Dimona, Israel, and the construction site is the size of a football field and can reach several floors deep.
The facility is already home to decades-old underground laboratories that reprocess the reactor’s spent fuel rods to obtain weapons-grade plutonium for Israel’s nuclear bomb program.
However, the purpose of the construction project is not clear, and the Israeli government has not responded to detailed questions about this work.
According to the Associated Press, Israel has maintained a vague nuclear policy, neither admitting nor denying possession of nuclear weapons. And Israel is one of the four countries that have never acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel continues to severely criticize Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran’s nuclear program is still under the supervision of United Nations inspectors, which is completely different from Israel’s own nuclear program. Experts once again called on Israel to publicly disclose the details of its nuclear program.
Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association. Kimball) said, “The Israeli government should confess what it has done at this secret nuclear weapons factory.”
In the late 1950s, with the help of France, Israel began to secretly build nuclear facilities in the open desert near the city of Dimona, about 90 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
For many years, Israel has concealed the military purpose of the facility from the United States (Israel’s main allies) and even called it a textile mill.
Because Dimona manufactures plutonium materials, Israel is widely regarded as one of the only nine countries in the world to possess nuclear weapons. Given the confidentiality of its project, it is not clear how many nuclear weapons Israel has.
Analysts estimate that Israel has the materials to make at least 80 bombs. These weapons may be carried by land-based ballistic missiles, fighters or submarines.
The layout of the Dimona factory has remained unchanged for decades.
However, the International Fissile Materials Committee of Princeton University in the United States pointed out last week that it was seen through commercial satellite photos that the nuclear facility was undergoing new large-scale construction activities, but the details could hardly be known.
Satellite imagery shows that workers dug a large crater 150 meters long and 60 meters wide in the southwest of the reactor.
A 330-meter-long trench extends near the excavation site. Other images show that excavation near the reactor began in early 2019 and has been slow since then.
The report said that the heavy water reactor of the Negev Nuclear Research Center began to operate in the 1960s and ran much longer than most reactors of the same period, which raised questions about effectiveness and safety.
In 2004, Israeli soldiers even began to distribute iodine tablets in Dimona to prevent radioactive leakage at the facility.
Analysts believe that for safety reasons, Israeli authorities may retire or modify the reactor.
Avner Cohen, professor of nuclear non-proliferation research at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said, “I think the Israeli government is concerned about maintaining and maintaining the country’s current nuclear capabilities.
If Dimona’s reactor is really close to decommissioning as I think, it is foreseeable that Israel is ensuring that some of the still indispensable functions of the reactor will be completely replaced.”
Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, believes that Israel may want to produce more tritium, a relatively fast-degener radioactive by-product that can be used to increase the explosive equivalent of some nuclear warheads.
He also said that Israel may also need new plutonium materials “to replace or extend the life of warheads already in Israel’s nuclear arsenals”.