Thirty seven years ago, during the 1973 war between Israel and surrounding states, then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir considered the use of nuclear weapons against Syria, according to recently unsealed documents.Although the documents could not definitively confirm the proposal to use nuclear weapons, due to most sections being blacked out by the military censor’s office, there were enough references and inferences for analysts to deduce that this was the option being spoken about at various cabinet meetings.
At the time, Israel is estimated to have built around a dozen nuclear warheads, having established the nuclear facility in Dimona in 1960. Israel is the only nuclear power in the world to have never submitted to regulation and inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, as all nuclear powers are required to do.
The October 1973 Cabinet meeting in which Golda Meir first proposed her ‘crazy idea’ — which most likely referred to the so-called ‘Samson option’ of using nuclear weapons as a last resort — was not the first or last time that Israel considered using nuclear weapons.
According to researchers, Israeli officials considered using nuclear weapons during the 1967 war with the Arab nations, in 1991 against Iraq, and most recently against Iran, a country which has been enriching uranium in US-funded facilities in order to advance nuclear energy in the country.
Although Israeli officials have accused Iran of attempting to enrich weapons-grade uranium, inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency found that no such enrichment was taking place. In addition, Iran agreed to conditions set by the US that its uranium be stored in secure facilities overseas, with small amounts imported for maintaining nuclear energy facilities.