Ariel (Eli) Levite

Nonresident Senior Associate
Nuclear Policy Program
Levite was the principal deputy director general for policy at the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission from 2002 to 2007.


PhD, Cornell University
MA, Cornell University
BA, Tel Aviv University


English; Hebrew


Ariel (Eli) Levite is a nonresident senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment.

Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment in 2008, Levite was the principal deputy director general for policy at the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission from 2002 to 2007. He also served as the deputy national security adviser for defense policy and was head of the Bureau of International Security and Arms Control (an assistant secretary position) in the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

In September 2000, Levite took a two-year sabbatical from the Israeli civil service to work as a visiting fellow and co-leader (with Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall) of the Discriminate Force Project at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University.

Before his government service, Levite worked for five years as a senior research associate and head of the project on Israeli security at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (subsequently renamed INSS) at Tel Aviv University. He has taught courses on security studies and political science at Tel Aviv University, Cornell University, and the University of California, Davis.

He has been awarded the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award at Tufts University’s Institute for Global Leadership and the Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur.

Levite has published extensively in academic outlets s as well as contemporary journals and newspapers. Some of his more recent publications include: "Israeli Strategy in Transition", in Hitchcock, William I., Melvyn P. Leffler, Jeffrey W. Legro, (eds)., Shaper Nations: Strategies for a Changing World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2016; "From Dream to Reality: Israel and Missile Defense" (with Shlomo Brom), in Kelleher, Catherine Mcardle and Peter Dombrowski (eds.), Regional Missile Defense from a Global Perspective, Stanford University Press, 2015; “Will Nuclear War Break Out in the Middle East?” in Heisbourg, Francois (ed.), Do Nuclear Weapons Have a Future? Paris, France: Odile Jacob, 2011; “Reflections on Nuclear Opacity,” in Tertrais, Bruno (ed.), A Tribute to Sir Michael Quinlan, Paris: France, FRS, 2011; “Rethinking Nuclear Abolition,” in A report to the Trilateral Commission 64, Washington, Paris, and Tokyo: The Trilateral Commission, 2010; “Global Zero: An Israeli Vision of Realistic Idealism,” Washington Quarterly Vol. 32, No. 2, April 2010; “Heading for the Fourth Nuclear Age,” IFRI Proliferation Papers No. 24, winter 2009; “Reflections on a Multilateral Base Camp,” Working Paper, Center for American Progress, July 2009; “The Current Proliferation Predicament” in Pilat, Joseph E., (ed.), Atoms for Peace: A Future After Fifty Years, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center and the Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007; “Never Say Never Again: Nuclear Reversal Revisited,” International Security Vol. 27, No. 3, winter 2002–2003; “The Case for Discriminate Force,” with Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Survival Vol. 4, No. 4, winter 2002-2003; Offense and Defense in Israeli Military Defense Doctrine, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989; and Intelligence and Strategic Surprises, NY: Columbia University Press, 1987. Levite has also authored, contributed, and co-edited other works, including  Israel’s Nuclear Image, Foreign Military Intervention, and Deterrence in the Middle East.

  • Regional Missile Defense from a Global Perspective November 4, 2015
    From Dream to Reality: Israel and Missile Defense

    How did Israel’s missile defense program evolve? What lessons can it offer for other states pursuing missile defense?

  • Op-Ed National Interest August 20, 2015
    Dreams From a Deal With Iran

    The Iran nuclear deal has yielded neither a verifiable Iranian commitment to restrict its nuclear endeavors to the parameters of a peaceful energy program, nor a mechanism that reliably prevents Iran from funneling the enormous unfrozen funds provided to it to all the wrong causes.

  • Op-Ed National Interest July 21, 2015
    Seven Realities That Made an Iran Deal Almost Inevitable

    Missing from the commentary on the agreement signed between the P5+1 and Iran is an assessment of the extent to which a nuclear deal with Iran had become possible, perhaps even inevitable for the United States, due to larger forces at bay.

  • Op-Ed Haaretz July 17, 2015
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Nuclear Agreement

    The United States has come out squarely to endorse a deal that tries to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons predominantly relying on positive inducements to get Iran to comply with its new formal commitments.

  • Op-Ed Norwegian Institute of International Affairs April 8, 2015
    The Negotiations on Iran’s Nuclear Program

    If the parties’ opening positions are used as benchmarks, the parameters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action favor Iran. If the deal is seen through the lenses of their strategic objectives, the picture is far more nuanced.

  • Op-Ed Arms Control Today January 27, 2015
    Looking Beyond the Interim Deal

    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues to procrastinate because he hopes to tactically leverage U.S. President Barack Obama’s eagerness for a deal into even better terms.

  • Podcast January 20, 2015
    Iran Nuclear Talks

    Neither Iran nor any of the P5+1 negotiating parties want the current talks to fall through, yet it remains to be seen whether remaining areas of disagreement can be bridged.

  • The Limits of Secure Nuclear Tolerance, Moscow, National Institute of Corporate Reform December 31, 2014
    Criteria for the Assessment of Undeclared Nuclear Weapons Development

    The realization that nuclear technology is, at its core, dual-use in nature occurred early on in the nuclear age, and it has been fundamental to every effort to harness the positive potential widely believed to be inherent in nuclear technology, while minimizing its risks.

  • Article June 10, 2014 عربي
    An Israeli Perspective on Syria

    In response to the open-ended Syrian civil war and the policy dilemmas it raises, the Israeli government has essentially decided to take a backseat.

  • Op-Ed Politico September 10, 2013
    Obama’s Opportunity in Syria

    Washington should endorse the Russian proposal and invest President Vladimir Putin’s prestige in winning Syria’s assent and full, timely implementation. Such an outcome would be better than military action and better than no action.

  • China Radio International’s English Service June 26, 2015
    The Iran Nuclear Issue

    The latest deadline for the long-standing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program is almost here. While a short extension seems likely, the talks may finally be winding down.

  • March 22, 2016 Washington, DC
    A Norm for Nuclear Material Production: Beyond the Washington Summit and the Iran Deal

    The Nuclear Security Summit has made little progress on preventing the production of fissile material that has no plausible use. One way forward would be to establish a norm that such production should be consistent with reasonable civilian needs.

  • March 23, 2015 Washington, DC
    Can Nuclear Regulation Be Credible?

    What are the challenges in ensuring credible regulation? How important is independence and how should it be achieved? Are there risks that too much regulation could strangle the development of new technologies? And how can public confidence in nuclear power be improved? | AUDIO | TRANSCRIPT

  • November 24, 2014 Beijing 中文
    Bird’s-Eye View of the Iran Nuclear Negotiations

    Stakeholders in Iranian nuclear negotiations must manage their strategic considerations to preserve Tehran’s right to produce nuclear energy while also reducing the program’s military potential.

  • September 15, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Announcing the Nuclear Power Plant Exporters’ Principles of Conduct

    The world's major vendor companies of civilian nuclear power plants have agreed to apply a common set of principles in their exporting decisions and practices.

  • March 29, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Innovating Nuclear Governance

    Many observers feel that the nuclear order is breaking down or failing to keep up with technological developments and the emergence of new powers. What alternatives are there for strengthening nuclear governance?

  • March 28, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Implications of Japan's Nuclear Disaster

    Is the Japan nuclear disaster site-specific or does it have broader implications for the credibility and viability of nuclear energy worldwide?

  • March 28, 2011 Washington, D.C.
    Atoms for Peace

    The spread of nuclear power to new states highlights the importance of corporate responsibility within the nuclear industry in facilitating adherence to global standards of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation.

  • Jacques Bouchard
    April 7, 2009 Washington, D.C.
    PART 2: Challenges to Global Nuclear Power: Technological, Political, and Economic

    Experts discussed the obstacles to a genuine worldwide nuclear energy renaissance.

  • Sameh Shoukry
    April 7, 2009 Washington, D.C.
    Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zones: Past Lessons and Future Prospects

    Experts examined the lessons learned from several existing NWFZs and assessed the prospects for and potential benefits of additional zones.

  • Leonard Spector and Carla Robbins
    April 6, 2009 Washington, D.C.
    Nuclear Crisis Points: Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan

    Experts discussed critical developments in these key countries and how their nuclear ambitions will affect efforts to curb the spread of nuclear appetites and weapons around the world.

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