Avner Cohen

Avner Cohen

Senior Fellow ⋅ Professor

[email protected]
Monterey, CA


Dr. Avner Cohen, widely known for his path-breaking history of the Israeli nuclear program, is an internationally recognized author and expert on nonproliferation issues, focusing on the Middle East. A consultant to a range of NGOs and governmental agencies, Dr. Cohen joins CNS after serving as a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2009-10) and following a ten-year affiliation with the Center for International and Security Studies (CISSM) at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Cohen is a two-time winner of prestigious MacArthur Foundation research and writing awards, in 1990 and 2004, and in 1997-98 and 2007-08, was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). In addition, Dr. Cohen was co-director of the Project on Nuclear Arms Control in the Middle East at the Security Studies Program at MIT from 1990 to 1995. He has been a visiting professor at a number of U.S. universities, and in 2005, was Forchheimer Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University.


Dr. Cohen holds a B.A. in Philosophy and History from Tel Aviv University, an M.A. in Philosophy from York University, and a Ph.D. from the Committee on History of Culture of the University of Chicago (1981).


CNS Work

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Dr. Cohen is the co-editor of Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity (1986, Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Inc.) and The Institution of Philosophy (1989, Open Court), and author of The Nuclear Age as Moral History (in Hebrew, 1989). His most acclaimed book, Israel and the Bomb, was published by Columbia University Press in 1998 in English and in 2000 in Hebrew. His latest work, The Worst Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb, was published in October 2010 by Columbia University Press.

Book Chapters & Journal Articles

  • “Israel,” a chapter in Hans Born, Reiner Hangi, and Bates Gill (eds.), Governing of Nuclear Weapons, Oxford (and SIPRI) University Press, (2010).
  • “Bringing Israel’s Bomb Out of the Basement: Has Nuclear Ambiguity Outlived Its Shelf Life,” (with Marvin Miller), Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89. No. 5 (September/October 2010): 30-44, www.foreignaffairs.com.
  • “Israel’s Nuclear Future: Iran, Opacity and the Vision of Global Zero,” Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Vol. 16. No. 3/4 (March 2010): 6-19, www.pij.org.
  • “Nuclear Legislation for Israel,” Strategic Assessment, Vol. 12. No. 1, (June 2009): 7-18, www.inss.org.il.
  • An author of the Israel chapter in International Institute of Strategic Studies dossier, Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran (London: IISS, 2008), 119-140.
  • “Israel,” with Marvin Miller, in Country Perspectives on the Challenges to a Fissile Material (Cutoff) Treaty, a companion volume to Global Fissile Material Report 2008, produced by the International Panel on Fissile Material (IPFM): 27-34.
  • “Israel as a Benign Proliferator: Continuity versus Change,” in Muthiah Alagappa (ed.), Nuclear Weapons in Asia, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008): 241-268.
  • “Israel’s Airstrike on Syria’s Reactor: Implications for the Nonproliferation Regime,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 38. No. 6 (July-August 2008): 15-21 (with Leonard Spector), www.armscontrol.org.
  • “Crossing the Threshold: The Untold Nuclear Dimension of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and Its Contemporary Lessons,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 37. No. 5, (June 2007): 12-17. A shorter version appeared as an op-ed in Ha’aretz on May 22, 2007 and in The International Herald Tribune on May 28, 2007, www.armscontrol.org.
  • “Secrecy Republic within a Democratic State: On Nuclear Decision-Making and Control in Israel,” in Gabi Shaffer (ed.), An Army that had a State: A New View on Israel’s Security and the Security Sector, Van Leer Press, 2007: 43-54.
  • “Israel Crosses the Threshold,” (With William Burr), Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Vol. 62, No. 3. (May-June 2006): 22-30. www.thebulletin.org.

Recent Op-eds

  • “Israel’s Iran Dilemma,” Ha’artez, December 12, 2011, www.haaretz.com.
  • “A New Nuclear Reaction,” Ha’artez, November 13, 2011, www.haaretz.com.
  • “Dagan did Israel a favor by warning against Iran strike,” Ha’artez, June 17, 2011, www.haaretz.com.
  • “Israel missing a chance at nuclear global legitimacy,” Ha’artez, April 11, 2010, www.haaretz.com.
  • “We look at Iran and See Ourselves,” Ha’aretz, April 02, 2010, www.haaretz.com.
  • “Iranian Threat to Destroy Israel doesn’t hold up,” Ha’aretz, February 25, 2010, www.haaretz.com.


  • “Newsweek/Daily Beast Writers’ Favorite Books 2011,” The Daily Beast, December 11, 2011, www.thedailybeast.com.
  • “Avner Cohen: Israel’s Iran Dilemma,” Australian Observer, December 08, 2011, by Paul Barratt, http://aussieobserver.blogspot.com.
  • “Despite Downed U.S. Drone Claims, Iran War Talk May be Overblown,” TIME Global Spin Blog, December 05, 2011, by Tony Karon, http://globalspin.blogs.time.com.
  • “The Real Lesson of Iraq,” The New York Times, November 28, 2011, by Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer, www.nytimes.com.
  • “Western Allies Running Out of Options to Stop Iran Nuke Program,” Deutsche Welle, November 11, 2011, www.dw-world.de.
  • “Worldview: What Not to do About Iran,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 10, 2011, by Trudy Rubin, http://articles.philly.com.
  • “Engaging Iran’s Nuclear Peril,” The Hindu, November 10, 2011, by Praveen Swami, www.thehindu.com.

The Israel-Argentina Yellowcake Connection

Previously secret documents tell the story of an Argentine sale of yellowcake to Israel during 1963-1964.

Avner Cohen and William Burr Co-authored Books

Quotes in International Press