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Gerald Ford Administration: Special National Intelligence Estimate Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

(August 23, 1974)

B. Israel

37. We believe that Israel already has produced and stockpiled a small number of fission weapons. [REDACTED] it cannot be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. But several bodies of information point strongly in the direction of a program stretching back over a number of years:

(a) Israel has gone to great effort to obtain uranium concentrate. It has sought this material clandestinely, [REDACTED]

(d) Israel has invested heavily in a costly missile system that is ineffective for precision delivery of conventional weapons. [REDACTED]

Facilities and Programs


43. The fact that Israel has made such a large investment in the Jericho missile system - which is only marginally useful if armed with high explosive warheads - is compelling substantiation for the judgement that Israel has nuclear weapons. Development began in France in 1963, was transferred to Israel in 1968, and was probably completed about 1970. The missile itself is essentialy unchanged from the the original French design. However, the Israelis replaced the orginial inertial guidance system with one of their own design which is based on components produced in Israel under licenses from US companies.

44. The Jericho is a mobile, two-stage, solid-propellant, short-range ballistic missile system with both tactical and strategic importance in the Middle East context. It is about 43 feet long, weighs almost 15,000 pounds and has a reentry vehicle that probably weighs about 2,200 pounds. Its maximum range is about 260 nm and the circular error probable (CEP) at that distance is estimated to be about 0.5 nm.


47. The Jericho missile was designed by the French to carry nuclear as well as conventional warheads. [REDACTED]

Sources: NSA Archives