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The reliability of flash memories is strongly. limited by the stress-induced leakage current (SILC), which leads to accelerated charge-loss phenomena in a few anomalous cells. Estimating the reliability of large flash arrays requires that physically-based models for the statistical distribution of SILC are developed. In this paper, we show a physical model for the leakage mechanism in thin oxides, which is able us to explain the anomalous leakage-conduction in tail cells. The physical model is then used for a quantitative evaluation of the SILC distribution in large flash arrays. The new model can reproduce the statistics of SILC for a wide range of tunnel-oxide thickness, and can provide a straightforward estimation of the reliability for large flash arrays.