Satellite images show significant expansion of desert site over past few years
By Julian Borger
Israel is carrying out a major expansion of its Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev desert, where it has historically made the fissile material for its nuclear arsenal.
Construction work is evident in new satellite images published on Thursday by the International Panel on Fissile Material (IPFM), an independent expert group. The area being worked on is a few hundred metres across to the south and west of the domed reactor and reprocessing point at the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center, near the desert town of Dimona.
Pavel Podvig, a researcher with the programme on science and global security at Princeton University, said: “It appears that the construction started quite early in 2019, or late 2018, so it’s been under way for about two years, but that’s all we can say at this point.”
The Israeli embassy in Washington had no comment on the new images. Israel has a policy of deliberate ambiguity on its nuclear arsenal, neither confirming nor denying its existence. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Israel has about 90 warheads, made from plutonium produced in the Dimona heavy water reactor.
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