The Department of Defense has confirmed what has long been known by most, but kept officially secret; Israel has nukes. The report was cleared for release after Obama was elected, but before he took power. It refers to “a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east.”
Israel is estimated to have several hundred nuclear warheads, placing it ahead of the UK, and likely with the third most warheads of any nation in the world. The purpose of these warheads is obvious. In the event of an organized arab attack, Israel would have the option of massive nuclear retaliation. I don’t think we can really say that this has ‘kept the peace’, but it certainly has kept Israel on the map. I would like to stress that there is no such thing as a defensive weapon. If a nation were to have an impenetrable forcefield, it would allow them to put all of their other forces on offense without worry, which, come to think of it, seems to be not far from what has happened.
According to Wikipedia, “The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 was amended by the Symington Amendment (Section 669 of the FAA) in 1976. It banned U.S. economic, and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections. “ This would seem to be a message from the U.S. to Israel that they are going to have to start following the rules if they want our continued support. This is no small matter, since Israel is in violation of quite a lot of U.N. resolutions, hides their arsenal from the IAEA, and has already been accused of using phosphorus and cluster bombs in civilian areas.