> Today, most independent researchers believe that the 1979 [Vela Incident] flash was caused by a nuclear explosion — perhaps an undeclared nuclear test carried out by South Africa and Israel.
A weird nuclear policy that one: build and test in secrecy, never tell anyone you have them unless things are really dire, and only then do a public reveal. Explain that one with deterrance theory
He didn’t even finish high school completely (no diploma), and dropped out of his engineering course at uni.
While he did revealed some information a lot of the technical details he talked about during his early interviews made absolutely no sense.
He was imprisoned on the basis of revealing classified information and taking photographs of a sensitive site.
Whether Israel has actual assembled weapons or not, they are a breakout state they have 2 reactors one at Dimona one at Soreq and even if in the 60’s and 70’s they didn’t had the knowledge to build nukes considering they took in nearly 2M Russian Jews and their family members they probably could’ve gained that capability from that immigration since the late 80’s to early 90’s.
Israel can also potentially posses a nuclear Triad however for Israel nukes are only really useful as a deterrent against a conventional threat as due to their size MAD will not work for them against any of their possible opponents in the region.
MAD also requires that everyone in the equation will be sane and held accountable, if there is an Islamist coup in say Pakistan or if a regional theocratic regime gets nukes it’s not clear how MAD would work even if the geographical and population sizes weren’t that different.
Also worth pointing out, while a theocratic takeover of a state like Pakistan would be infinitely problematic, (probably) particularly for non-proliferation, MAD still applies unless the takeover is a flat-out doomsday cult. Problematic as I may find an Islamist theocracy as a Westerner, they're not insane, but simply of very different cultural belief. Should anyone want to live to see tomorrow, and or allow their offspring to do so then MAD applies.
I remember that during the war with Cuba in Angola the South Africans deployed their nuke on the border, the Cubans knew this and as such the South African border was never threatend.
If they say they have none, their enemies might think there's a chance they actually have a lot, or at least enough to cause serious damage. And there's the deterrence. If they say they have a lot but don't demonstrate it, their enemies will probably think they're bluffing and will demand proof. I think it only makes sense to go public when it's a gun that can be pointed directly at someone's head, rather than a few of their toes. It's probably the best way to project a strong posture despite not actually having one.
And more practically, it lets them develop the program with less chance of other countries (including allies) complaining about it or condemning it, which could potentially slow it down or stop it before it's sufficiently developed.
Surprise attacks with a super-weapon only works if you're the first to have one.
Again, that only works if you can "outpoker" your opponent, and if this alone will be sufficient to crush his will to fight back.
Imagine US actions if in 2003, mushroom clouds would've actually risen over major US cities, out of a sudden. If you remember, Saddam did a last minute bluff, promising "fiery death" to NYC, and Washington, and this silly bluff did make not so few people in DC to turn pale.
Knowing how US politics goes, I would say US would've seriously considered rising a white flag, invariable how weak enemy's conventional forces are, in fear of additional strike.
Given that Israel would likely come under sanction due to non-proliferation policy, and the further pressure on Iran to develop their own, revealing the capability is problematic to say the least.
Hoping to keep it secret for some kind of strike like that goes right out the window once you've used it, and you will absolutely never strike hard enough to remove the nuclear capacity of somebody like the USA (that's why nuclear submarines exist).
That's certain, but being hit by a second strike is already much better than a first strike, or, even better, not being hit at all. See, Saddam almost had it with his bluff.
> No nation's military can afford to use nuclear weapons first because it will absolutely result in country-ending retaliatory strikes. There wouldn't have been an Iraq left for Saddam to rule.
See, such naive assumption are exactly what make it more than likely. People are infirm, and all kinds of regime leaders are much better "poker players" than any Western politician out there.
Imagine, you a president of a nation state, or whomever took his place in chain of command. You got news that you biggest city took a hit, possibly hundreds of thousands are dead, than another. You tell you forces to continue to advance, then you hear a loud bang while you sit in your bunker, and there you get a call on your direct line with an offer... to let you live...
I don't see the psychology of warfare being any much different in a nuclear exchange, than in a firefight. You only have one life, and one set of limbs, and with each inch of enemy territory taken you will be asking yourself more and more "isn't that enough?" and you will feel your will almost physically crumbling. Fear of death is a really powerful thing.
When I lived in Canada, I encountered a number of Afghan war veterans. All an every of them who ever been deployed in the field can tell of stories of "unwritten" ceasefire agreements, and exchanges on the radio with Talibans with offers of peaceful withdrawals that never got written into any official report. And this is happening even when Afghan war is a complete turkeyshoot for Nato armies.
Your "even better" clause is a dramatic understatement of the difference. This is the crucial point upon which nuclear deterrence strategies are based.
You've said this multiple times but failed to support it in any way
The best nukes are the ones that never need to be used.
What is the best way to scare your enemy with your commitment to murder him using overwhelming force, than... to start doing so?
The politicians and people reading political science may thing the other way around, war does not work the other way as shown by thousands of years of history.
The only reason to keep nuclear weapons is to keep other from using them. It’s called "mutually assured destruction" — "you nuke me, I nuke you" nobody wants that. I.e. the _reason_ to keep nukes is to never use them.
If only one side has nukes, then mutually assured destruction is not possible, and hence there is no safety against nuclear way.
However, I recall an incident of a South African Airways crash in ‘87  which unsubstantiated theories stated were carrying nuclear materials or something.
With that said, they had early, good relations as SA recognized Israel very early on, with a Prime Minister in support of Zionism, and this remained so for decades.
 - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel–South_Africa_relation...
The quotes that it was a test were from journalists, and from people who "heard" about it. None from actual scientists who studied it.
> A December 2016 report by William Burr and Avner Cohen of George Washington University's National Security Archive and Nuclear Proliferation International History Project noted that the debate over the South Atlantic flash has shifted over the last few years, on the side of a man-made weapon test. The National Security Archive briefing concluded:
>> A Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored panel of well-respected scientists concluded that a mysterious flash detected by a U.S. Vela satellite over the South Atlantic on the night of 22 September 1979 was likely a nuclear test.
> The newly released research and subsequent report was largely based upon recently declassified documents in files at the National Archives of Gerard C. Smith, a former Ambassador and special envoy on nuclear nonproliferation during Jimmy Carter's presidency. Smith had once said: "I was never able to break free from the thought that the event was a joint operation between Israel and South Africa." The documents cited a June 1980 U.S. State Department report where Defense Intelligence Agency Vice Director Jack Varona had said the ensuing U.S. investigation was a "white wash, due to political considerations" based on "flimsy evidence". He added that the "weight of the evidence pointed towards a nuclear event" and cited hydroacoustic data analyzed by the Naval Research Laboratory. The data, he suggested, involved "signals ... unique to nuclear shots in a maritime environment" and emanating from the area of "shallow waters between Prince Edward and Marion Islands, south-east of South Africa".
> In 2018, a new study made the case for the double flash being a nuclear test.
The interesting fact is that there is very little speak of any other nation carrying out a nuclear test. It boiled down to Israel and South Africa, or a sensor glitch/weather fenomena. Kind of fun that the two nations vere the prime suspects although officially "nothing happened".
*Permanently uninhabited, but there's a research base there.
Prince Edward island is only 12 miles or so from Marion and visible from the base so it certainly did not happen in the waters between them.
Atomic tests have routinely been carried out with scientific observers nearby, I mean, it's sorta the point of doing one. And as for people noticing, I would imagine apartheid South Africa had their own equivalent of an Official Secrets Act.
Also, the fact that the overwintering teams are all listed as ending their time there in September strongly correlates to the date of the Vela Incident. So entirely plausible to send the winter team home a few days early and delay the the summer team.