Elements of Caution and Prudence
Philip Reiner and Peter Hayes with Avner Cohen
Israel is a unique case among the current nine nuclear weapons states. It is the sixth state—and the first and only one in the Middle East—to develop, acquire, and possess nuclear weapons. And yet, to this day, it has never openly acknowledged its nuclear weapons-state status. Nor has the outside world, friends or foes alike, pressed Israel to come clean publicly about its nuclear status. As a long-held policy, Israel neither confirms nor denies possession of nuclear weapons. Instead, ever since the mid-1960s—a time in which Israel did not yet possess nuclear weapons capability—Israel has declared, first privately and then publicly, that “it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East.” This formula became the essence of Israel’s policy of nuclear opacity. In this segment Avner Cohen traces and exposes Israel’s two most fundamental principles of the Israeli NC3 thinking: first, insisting on strict physical and organizational separation between nuclear (e.g., pits) and non-nuclear assets (e.g., military delivery platform); second, creating a two- tier governance architecture at various levels.
This podcast is accompanied by Avner Cohen’s paper “Israel’s NC3 Profile: Opaque Nuclear Governance”
The Fourth Leg is a series of podcasts focused on one of the most complex systems in the world today – nuclear command and control – and its increasingly complicated future. Within this series we go straight to the experts, across multiple sectors, to discuss the modernization of nuclear command and control systems.
Along with colleagues from the Nautilus Institute and the Preventive Defense Project, IST recently hosted over 50 international experts at Stanford University to anticipate technical challenges that will arise from the modernization of complex nuclear command and control systems. We aim to spotlight some of the vulnerabilities within a modernized NC3 system while furthering the conversation with this series.
Keep an eye on IST, as we will begin additional podcast series in the coming months focused on how to fix the internet, AI and global stability, and other critical tech and security issues- for now, we have so much more to talk about, so let’s get started.