Mossad And The JFK Assassination
“Israel need not apologize for the assassination or destruction of those who seek to destroy it. The first order of business for any country is the protection of its people.”
Washington Jewish Week, October 9, 1997
In March, 1992, Illinois Representative Paul Findley said in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “It is interesting – but not surprising – to note that in all the words written and uttered about the Kennedy assassination, Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, has never been mentioned.”
Considering that the Mossad is quite possibly the most ruthless and efficient intelligence agency in the world, it is peculiar that they have never been scrutinized in relation to the Kennedy assassination, especially when practically every other entity in the world has been implicated. But that all changed in January, 1994 with the release of Michael Collins Piper’s Final Judgment. In this book, Piper says, “Israel’s Mossad was a primary (and critical) behind the scenes player in the conspiracy that ended the life of JFK. Through its own vast resources and through its international contacts in the intelligence community and in organized crime, Israel had the means, it had the opportunity, and it had the motive to play a major frontline role in the crime of the century – and it did.”
Their motive? Israel’s much touted Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who ruled that country from its inception in 1948 until he resigned on June 16, 1963, was so enraged at John F. Kennedy for not allowing Israel to become a nuclear power that, Collins asserts, in his final days in office he commanded the Mossad to become involved in a plot to kill America’s president.
Ben-Gurion was so convinced that Israel’s very survival was in dire jeopardy that in one of his final letters to JFK he said, “Mr. President, my people have the right to exist, and this existence is in danger.”
In the days leading up to Ben-Gurion’s resignation from office, he and JFK had been involved in an unpublicized, contentious debate over the possibility of Israel getting nuclear capabilities. Their disagreement eventually escalated into a full-fledged war of words that was virtually ignored in the press. Ethan Bronner wrote about this secret battle between JFK and Ben-Gurion years later in a New York Times article on October 31, 1998, calling it a “fiercely hidden subject.” In fact, the Kennedy/Ben-Gurion conversations are still classified by the United States Government. Maybe this is the case because Ben-Gurion’s rage and frustration became so intense – and his power so great within Israel – that Piper contends it was at the center of the conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. This stance is supported by New York banker Abe Feinberg, who describes the situation as such: “Ben-Gurion could be vicious, and he had such a hatred of the old man [Joe Kennedy, Sr., JFK’s father].” Ben-Gurion despised Joe Kennedy because he felt that not only was he an anti-Semite, but that he had also sided with Hitler during the 1930’s and 40’s.
Ben-Gurion was convinced that Israel needed nuclear weapons to insure its survival, while Kennedy was dead-set against it. This inability to reach an agreement caused obvious problems. One of them revolved around Kennedy’s decision that he would make America his top priority in regard to foreign policy, and not Israel! Kennedy planned to honor the 1950 Tripartite Declaration which said that the United States would retaliate against any nation in the Middle East that attacked any other country. Ben-Gurion, on the other hand, wanted the Kennedy Administration to sell them offensive weapons, particularly Hawk missiles.
The two leaders thus engaged in a brutal letter exchange, but Kennedy wouldn’t budge. Ben-Gurion, obsessed by this issue, slipped into total paranoia, feeling that Kennedy’s obstinacy was a blatant threat to the very existence of Israel as a nation. Piper writes, “Ben-Gurion had devoted a lifetime creating a Jewish State and guiding it into the world arena. And, in Ben-Gurion’s eyes, John F. Kennedy was an enemy of the Jewish people and his beloved state of Israel.” He continues, “The ‘nuclear option’ was not only at the very core of Ben-Gurion’s personal world view, but the very foundation of Israel’s national security policy.”
Ben-Gurion was so preoccupied with obtaining nuclear weapons that on June 27, 1963, eleven days after resigning from office, he announced, “I do not know of any other nation whose neighbors declare that they wish to terminate it, and not only declare, but prepare for it by all means available to them. We must have no illusions that what is declared every day in Cairo, Damascus, and Iraq are just words. This is the thought that guides the Arab leaders … I am confident … that science is able to provide us with the weapons that will serve the peace and deter our enemies.”
Avner Cohen, in Israel and the Bomb, published by Columbia University Press, reinforces this sense of urgency by writing, “Imbued with lessons of the Holocaust, Ben-Gurion was consumed by fears of security … Anxiety about the Holocaust reached beyond Ben-Gurion to infuse Israel’s military thinking.” He further adds fuel to this point by pointing out, “Ben-Gurion had no qualms about Israel’s need for weapons of mass destruction,” and “Ben-Gurion’s world view and his decisive governing style shaped his critical role in instigating Israel’s nuclear progress.”
Kennedy, on the other hand, was adamant in his refusal to promote Israel’s ascension to the nuclear stage. Avner Cohen, in Israel and the Bomb, stresses, “No American president was more concerned with the danger of nuclear proliferation than John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was convinced that the spread of nuclear weapons would make the world more dangerous and undermine U.S. interests.” Cohen continues at the end of this passage, “The only example Kennedy used to make this point was Israel.”
Realizing that Kennedy would not change his mind, Ben-Gurion decided to join forces with Communist China. Both countries were greatly interested in creating nuclear programs, and so began their secret joint dealings. Working in unison through intermediary Shaul Eisenberg, who was a partner of Mossad gun-runner and accountant Tibor Rosenbaum, Israel and China proceeded to develop their own nuclear capabilities without the knowledge of the United States.
If you find this scenario improbable, I strongly urge you to read Gordon Thomas’ excellent book, Seeds of Fire, where he exposes how the Mossad and CSIS (Chinese secret service) have conspired on many occasions to not only steal American military secrets, but to also doctor U.S. intelligence programs such as the Justice Department’s PROMISE software. This instance, I am afraid to say, is but the first where echoes of the JFK assassination can still be felt today reverberating through our post 9-11 world. The danger of Israel developing the Bomb in unison with China became a highly volatile situation, and was closely monitored by the CIA.
Intent on pursuing this path, the Israelis constructed a nuclear facility at Dimona. When Kennedy demanded that the U.S. inspect this plant, Ben-Gurion was so incensed that he erected another PHONY facility that held no evidence of nuclear research and development. Fully aware of their shenanigans, though, JFK told Charles Bartlett, “The sons of bitches lie to me constantly about their nuclear capability.”
Avner Cohen, in Israel and the Bomb, reiterates this claim by saying that Ben-Gurion had taken the nuclear issue so closely to heart that he, “concluded that he could not tell the truth about Dimona to American leaders, not even in private.”
Dr. Gerald M. Steinberg, political science professor at Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, weighs in by saying, “Between 1961 and 1963, the Kennedy administration placed a great deal of pressure on Ben-Gurion in the effort to pressure for acceptance of international inspection of Dimona and Israeli abdication of their nuclear weapons. This pressure apparently did not alter Israeli policy, but it was a contributing factor to Ben-Gurion’s resignation in 1963.”
To convey how serious this situation had become in modern terms, look at what is happening in Iraq with United Nations security teams inspecting the royal palaces and bunkers for nuclear weapons and materials. This matter is so urgent that our nation is on the verge of war. Forty years earlier, the heat that JFK was placing on Ben-Gurion was equal to what George Bush is laying on Saddam Hussein today. [The difference being, of course, that Iraq never actually possessed weapons of mass destruction, and the intelligence which said they did came from Israel.]
In Israel and the Bomb, Avner Cohen reinforces this point. “To force Ben-Gurion to accept the conditions, Kennedy exerted the most useful leverage available to an American president in dealing with Israel: a threat that an unsatisfactory solution would jeopardize the U.S. government’s commitment to, and support of, Israel.”
The pressure on Ben-Gurion was so immense that he ended up leaving office. But Kennedy, in true pitbull style, didn’t let up on Ben-Gurion’s successor, Levi Eshkol, either, as Avner Cohen reports. “Kennedy told Eshkol that the U.S. commitment and support of Israel ‘could be seriously jeopardized’ if Israel did not let the U.S. obtain ‘reliable information’ about its efforts in the nuclear field. Kennedy’s demands were unprecedented. They amounted, in effect, to an ultimatum.” Cohen concludes this thought by asserting, “Kennedy’s letter precipitated a near-crisis situation in Eshkol’s office.”
In the end, as we’re all aware, Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963; but less known is that China conducted its first nuclear test in October, 1964. What makes this event more profound is Piper’s claim that even though Israel said its first nuclear tests took place in 1979, they actually occurred in October, 1964 along with the Chinese! If this is true, other than August, 1945 when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, October 1964 may possibly be the most dangerous month in 20th century history.
Let’s return, though, to JFK’s assassination and the direct results of it in regard to the Jewish lobby, American foreign policy, and the militarization of Israel. To understand how powerful the Israeli lobby is in this country, venerable Senator J. William Fulbright told CBS Face the Nation on April 15, 1973, “Israel controls the U.S. Senate. The Senate is subservient, much too much; we should be more concerned about U.S. interests rather than doing the bidding of Israel. The great majority of the Senate of the U.S. – somewhere around 80% – is completely in support of Israel; anything Israel wants, Israel gets. This has been demonstrated time and again, and this has made [foreign policy] difficult for our government.”
This isn’t the quote of some crazy conspiracy theorist or a KKK anti-Semite. It’s a much-respected U.S. Senator saying that about 80% of the Senate is in Israel’s hip pocket [and this was 1973]. Adding clout to this argument is Rep. Paul Findley, who was quoted in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in March, 1992, “During John Kennedy’s campaign for the presidency, a group of New York Jews had privately offered to meet his campaign expenses if he would let them set his Middle East policy. He did not agree … As the president, he provided only limited support of Israel.”
To understand how important Kennedy’s decisions were during his short-lived presidency, we need to look at the issue of campaign finance. Considering how influential the Israeli lobby is in the U.S. Senate (hearkening back to the words of Senator Fulbright), they had to have been enraged when President Kennedy genuinely wanted to cut the knees out from under the current campaign finance methods because it made politicians so reliant upon the huge cash inlays of special-interest groups. Regrettably, Kennedy did not have the time to implement this program, and to this day our political system is still monopolized by lobbyists from the very same special-interest groups. One can only imagine what changes would have occurred in regard to our foreign policy had Kennedy eradicated these vipers and blood-suckers from the halls of Congress.
Tragically, Kennedy’s ideas never came to fruition, and his heated battle with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion over whether Israel should be allowed to develop a nuclear program was ultimately lost. The reason why is that Lyndon Baines Johnson, who Kennedy intended to drop from his ticket in 1964 due to his extreme dislike for, had a complete reversal in foreign policy. As you will see, not only did Israel’s nuclear program move ahead unchecked; they also became the primary beneficiary of our foreign aid.
But this absolute turnaround would not have occurred if Kennedy would not have been assassinated. Up until LBJ became president, Kennedy dealt with the Middle East in a way that most benefited the U.S. His primary goal – and one which would most keep the peace – was a balance of power in the Middle East so that each and every nation would be secure. This decision adhered to the Tripartite Declaration which the U.S. signed in 1950. But under the Johnson administration, this fragile balance was overturned, and by 1967 – only four years after Kennedy’s assassination – the U.S. was Israel’s main weapons supplier, and OUR best interests were put well behind those of Israel!
As Michael Collins Piper writes: “The bottom line is this: JFK was adamantly determined to stop Israel from building the nuclear bomb. LBJ simply looked the other way. JFK’s death did indeed prove beneficial to Israel’s nuclear ambitions and the evidence proves it.”
Reuven Pedatzer, in a review of Avner Cohen’s Israel and the Bomb, in the Israeli Newspaper Ha’aretz on February 5, 1999 wrote, “The murder of American president John F. Kennedy brought to an abrupt end the massive pressure being applied by the U.S. administration on the government of Israel to discontinue their nuclear program.” He continues, “Kennedy made it quite clear to the Israeli Prime Minister that he would not under any circumstances agree to Israel becoming a nuclear state.” Pedatzer concludes, “Had Kennedy remained alive, it is doubtful whether Israel would today have a nuclear option,” and that, “Ben-Gurion’s decision to resign in 1963 was taken to a large extent against the background of the tremendous pressure that Kennedy was applying on him concerning the nuclear issue.”
If you’re still not convinced; how about some numbers? In Kennedy’s last fiscal budget year of 1964, Israeli aid was $40 million. In LBJ’s first budget of 1965, it soared to $71 million, and in 1966 more than tripled from two years earlier to $130 million! Plus, during Kennedy’s administration, almost none of our aid to Israel was military in nature. Instead, it was split equally between development loans and food assistance under the PL480 Program. Yet in 1965 under the Johnson administration, 20% of our aid to Israel was for the military, while in 1966, 71% was used for war-related materials. [And contrast this, further, with the billions in annual aid which they receive today…]
Continuing in this same vein, in 1963 the Kennedy administration sold 5 Hawk missiles to Israel as part of an air-defense system. In 1965-66, though, LBJ laid 250 tanks on Israel, 48 Skyhawk attack aircrafts, plus guns and artillery which were all offensive in nature. If you ever wondered when the Israeli War Machine was created, this is it! LBJ was its father.
According to Stephen Green in Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, “The $92 million in military assistance provided in fiscal year 1966 was greater than the total of all official military aid provided to Israel cumulatively in all the years going back to the foundation of that nation in 1948.”
Green continues, “70% of all U.S. official assistance to Israel has been military. America has given Israel over $17 billion in military aid since 1946, virtually all of which – over 99% – has been provided since 1965.”
Can you see what’s happening here? Within two years of JFK’s assassination, Israel went from being a comparatively weak, outmatched member of the volatile Middle Eastern community that was not allowed to develop nuclear weapons to one that was well on its way to becoming a undeniable military force on the world stage. John Kennedy adamantly put his foot down and refused to allow Israel to develop a nuclear program, while LBJ bent over backward to facilitate and bolster them. Or, as Seymour Hersh wrote in The Samson Option, “By 1968, the president had no intention of doing anything to stop the Israeli bomb.”
The result of this shift in focus from the Kennedy to Johnson administration is, in my opinion, the PRIMARY reason behind our current troubles in the Middle East which culminated in the 9-11 attacks and our upcoming war with Iraq (and beyond). I have a great deal of confidence in this statement, for as Michael Collins Piper points out, here are the results of John F. Kennedy’s assassination:
1) Our foreign and military aid to Israel increased dramatically once LBJ became president.
2) Rather than trying to maintain a BALANCE in the Middle East, Israel suddenly emerged as the dominant force.
3) Since the LBJ administration, Israel has always had weaponry that was superior to any of its direct neighbors.
4) Due to this undeniable and obvious increase in Israel’s War Machine, a constant struggle has been perpetuated in the Middle East.
5) LBJ also allowed Israel to proceed with its nuclear development, resulting in them becoming the 6th largest nuclear force in the world.
6) Finally, our huge outlays of foreign aid to Israel (approximately $10 billion/year when all is said and done) has created a situation of never-ending attacks and retaliation in the Middle East, plus outright scorn and enmity against the U.S. for playing the role of Israel’s military enabler.
In Israel’s, and especially David Ben-Gurion’s eyes then, what were their alternatives – to remain weakened (or at least balanced) in relation to their neighbors and handcuffed by JFK’s refusal to bow to their will, or KILL the one man standing in their way to becoming dominant in the Middle East, the recipient of huge amounts of military aid, and one of the premier nuclear forces in the world? It’s something to think about. Also, while these thoughts are running through your head, ask yourself this question. If Kennedy, LBJ, and all subsequent administrations would have adhered to the 1950 Tripartite Declaration and did everything in their power to maintain balance in the Middle East instead of pushing Israel to the forefront, would our Towers have been attacked on 9-11, 2001, and would we be on the verge of a possibly catastrophic war today? It’s certainly something to ponder.
More Evidence Mossad Killed JFK Over Israeli Nukes: The Missing Link In The JFK Assassination Conspiracy
(Note – The second item further below is a letter from JFK to Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol which makes it crystal clear JFK did NOT want the Jewish state to develop nuclear weapons and that he was demanding regular US inspections of the Dimona Nuclear facility… which, as we now know, was/is used to develop Israel’s enormous inventory of atomic and thermonuclear weapons. The US Air Force white paper regarding past and ongoing Israeli thermonuclear blackmail of the US is a stunning look at how Zionism has exerted such staggering domination over the US for decades. -ed)
After reading: “New JFK Assassination Theory” from WND, it is obvious that it is just more dis-information diverting attention away from the more than likely perpetrators, the Mossad. It’s only fair to remind or inform your readers of the theory posed by Michael Collins Piper in ‘Final Judgment’. His theory makes more sense than anything.
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding concerning what Final Judgment does and does not say about the JFK assassination. The book does not say that “the Jews killed JFK.” That’s horse manure.
What the book does say is that: When New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison charged businessman Clay Shaw with participation in the JFK assassination conspiracy Garrison stumbled upon the Israeli Mossad connection to the murder of President Kennedy. Shaw served on the board of a shadowy corporation known as Permindex. A primary shareholder in Permindex was the Banque De Credit International of Geneva, founded by Tibor Rosenbaum, an arms procurer and financier for the Mossad.
What’s more, the Mossad-sponsored Swiss bank was the chief “money launderer” for Meyer Lansky, the head of the international crime syndicate and an Israeli loyalist whose operations meshed closely on many fronts with the American CIA.
The chairman of Permindex was Louis M. Bloomfield of Montreal, a key figure in the Israeli lobby and an operative of the Bronfman family of Canada, long-time Lansky associates and among Israel’s primary international patrons.
In the pages of “Final Judgment” the Israeli connection to the JFK assassination is explored in frightening–and fully documented–detail. For example, did you know:
* That JFK was engaged in a bitter secret conflict with Israel over U.S. East policy and that Israel’s prime minister resigned in disgust, saying JFK’s stance threatened Israel’s very survival?
* That JFK’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, immediately reversed America’s policy toward Israel?
* That the top Mafia figures often alleged to be behind the JFK assassination were only front men for Meyer Lansky?
* That the CIA’s liaison to the Mossad, James Angleton, was a prime mover behind the cover-up of the JFK assassination?
Why didn’t Oliver Stone, in his famous movie “JFK” not mention any of this [silly question]? It turns out the chief financial backer of Stone’s film was longtime Mossad figure, Arnon Milchan, Israel’s biggest arms dealer.
The very fact that the Israeli lobby has gone to such great lengths to try to smear Michael Collins Piper and to try to discredit Final Judgment only boosts the book’s credibility. If the book was really so silly or so unconvincing, it doesn’t seem likely that groups such as the Anti-Defamation League would go out of their way to try to suppress the book as they have.
The fact is that Piper demonstrates that Israel did indeed have a very strong motive to want to get JFK out of the way and that numerous people who have been linked in other writings to the JFK conspiracy were (as Piper documents) also in the sphere of influence of Israel’s Mossad. Not only Clay Shaw in New Orleans, but also James Angleton at the CIA, who was Israel’s strongest advocate at the CIA and also the CIA’s liaison to the Mossad. The Israeli connection is indeed “the missing link in the JFK assassination conspiracy.”
The “Reader from Chicago” who wrote the review of Final Judgment posted here is really off the beam and I suspect he (or she) is deliberately distorting what Piper’s book does say in order to try to discourage people from reading it.
The fact is that Piper’s book documents (quite clearly, in my estimation) not only the means, opportunity and the motive for Israeli Mossad involvement in the assassination (working in conjunction with the CIA), but it is also quite fascinating and very interesting read. “Boring” is the last word I’d use to describe the book, and it is certainly not “poorly written.”
What’s more, the book is not–I repeat–not “anti-Semitic” [this word loses meaning with every passing day] and the book has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of the Holocaust. In fact, anybody familiar with any of the standard writings on the JFK assassination will recognize the names of some of the key players in the scenario Piper documents: Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, Guy Banister and James J. Angleton of the CIA–and none of them were Jewish. So where this reviewer gets off saying that Piper finds “a Jew under every rock” is beyond me. I have read literally hundreds of books and magazine articles and other material on the JFK assassination and not in a single one of them–with the exception of Final Judgment–did I ever learn that President John F. Kennedy was trying to stop Israel from building the nuclear bomb and that this literally touched off a “secret war” behind the scenes between JFK and Israel’s prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who resigned (among other reasons) in disgust over JFK’s policies with Israel. In fact, Israeli historian Avner Cohen in his book, Israel and the Bomb, documents this quite thoroughly.
And in Final Judgment Piper also outlines some interesting Israeli connections by people who have been linked to the JFK assassination and cover-up, including Clay Shaw of New Orleans. Even Israeli journalist Barry Chamish has written in an Internet review of Final Judgment that he finds Piper’s Israeli connection (via Shaw and Permindex) quite convincing.
There was a controversy in the Chicago area following an attempt by the Anti-Defamation League (an Israeli lobby organization) and people associated with the ADL to prevent Final Judgment from being placed in the Schaumburg Township District Library. Chances are the Reader from Chicago is probably an ADL representative! –This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
JFK’s Concern Over Israel’s Nuclear Bomb Program: JFK’s Letter To Israeli PM Eshkol July 5, 1963
Dear Mr. Prime Minister (Eshkol),
It gives me great personal pleasure to extend congratulations as you assume your responsibilities as Prime Minister of Israel. You have our friendship and best wishes in your new tasks. It is on one of these that I am writing you at this time.
You are aware, I am sure, of the exchange which I had with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion concerning American visits (ie: inspections -ed) to Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona. Most recently, the Prime Minister wrote to me on May 27. His words reflected a most intense personal consideration of a problem that I know is not easy for your Government, as it is not for mine. We welcomed the former Prime Minister’s strong reaffirmation that Dimona will be devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes and the reaffirmation also of Israel’s willingness to permit periodic visits (ie: inspections -ed) to Dimona.
I regret having to add to your burdens so soon after your assumption of office, but I feel the crucial importance of this problem necessitates my taking up with you at this early date certain further considerations, arising out of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s May 27 letter, as to the nature and scheduling of such visits.
I am sure you will agree that these visits should be as nearly as possible in accord with international standards, thereby resolving all doubts as to the peaceful intent of the Dimona project. As I wrote Mr. Ben-Gurion, this Government’s commitment to and support of Israel could be seriously jeopardized if it should be thought that we were unable to obtain reliable information on a subject as vital to the peace as the question of Israel’s effort in the nuclear field.
Therefore, I asked our scientists to review the alternative schedules of visits we and you had proposed. If Israel’s purposes are to be clear beyond reasonable doubt, I believe that the schedule which would best serve our common purposes would be a visit early this summer, another visit in June 1964, and thereafter at intervals of six months. I am sure that such a schedule should not cause you any more difficulty than that which Mr. Ben-Gurion proposed in his May 27 letter. It would be essential, and I understand that Mr. Ben-Gurion’s letter was in accord with this, that our scientist have access to all areas of the Dimona site and to any related part of the complex, such as fuel fabrication facilities or plutonium separation plant, and that sufficient time to be allotted for a thorough examination.
Knowing that you fully appreciate the truly vital significance of this matter to the future well-being of Israel, to the United States, and internationally, I am sure our carefully considered request will have your most sympathetic attention.
John F. Kennedy
Here (below) are excerpts from the US Air Force paper on Israel’s nuclear blackmail of the United States and its influence on US foreign policy. One can draw additional conclusions about how such blackmail might have factored into the trillion plus US dollars that have benefited Israel since JFK’s murder.
Zionist Israel’s Thermonuclear Blackmail Of America
Jeff – These are paragraphs of ‘special interest’ I wish to highlight from the long and detailed USAF report that follows…my comments are in all caps:
One other purpose of Israeli nuclear weapons, not often stated, but obvious, is their “use” on the United States. America does not want Israel’s nuclear profile raised. They have been used in the past to ensure America does not desert Israel under increased Arab (or oil embargo) pressure and have forced the United States to support Israel diplomatically against the Soviet Union. Israel used their existence to guarantee a continuing supply of American conventional weapons, a policy likely to continue.
ISRAEL DICTATES TO US AND WE CONCEDE TO ISRAEL
Israel went on full-scale nuclear alert again on the first day of Desert Storm, 18 January 1991. Seven SCUD missiles were fired against the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa by Iraq (only two actually hit Tel Aviv and one hit Haifa). This alert lasted for the duration of the war, 43 days. Over the course of the war, Iraq launched around 40 missiles in 17 separate attacks at Israel. There was little loss of life: two killed directly, 11 indirectly, with many structures damaged and life disrupted. Several supposedly landed near Dimona, one of them a close miss. Threats of retaliation by the Shamir government if the Iraqis used chemical warheads were interpreted to mean that Israel intended to launch a nuclear strike if gas attacks occurred.
One Israeli commentator recommended that Israel should signal Iraq that “any Iraqi action against Israeli civilian populations, with or without gas, may leave Iraq without Baghdad.” Shortly before the end of the war the Israelis tested a “nuclear capable” missile which prompted the United States into intensifying its SCUD hunting in western Iraq to prevent any Israeli response. The Israeli Air Force set up dummy SCUD sites in the Negev for pilots to practice on. “They found it no easy task. American government concessions to Israel for not attacking (in addition to Israeli Patriot missile batteries) were:
* Allowing Israel to designate 100 targets inside Iraq for the coalition to destroy,
* Satellite downlink to increase warning time on the SCUD attacks (present and future),
* Technical parity with Saudi jet fighters in perpetuity.
JFK demanded Israel allow inspectors to see Dimona. Three months later he was assassinated and pro-Israel Johnson is President:
The Israelis aggressively pursued an aircraft delivery system from the United States. President Johnson was less emphatic about nonproliferation than President Kennedy-or perhaps had more pressing concerns, such as Vietnam. He had a long history of both Jewish friends and pressing political contributors coupled with some firsthand experience of [“]the Holocaust[“], having toured concentration camps at the end of World War II.
Israel pressed LBJ hard for aircraft (A-4E Skyhawks initially and F-4E Phantoms later) and obtained agreement in 1966 under the condition that the aircraft would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. The State Department attempted to link the aircraft purchases to continued inspection visits. President Johnson overruled the State Department concerning Dimona inspections. Although denied at the time, America delivered the F-4Es, on September 5, 1969, with nuclear capable hardware intact.
Not only were the Israelis interested in American nuclear weapons development data, they were interested in targeting data from U.S. intelligence. Israel discovered that they were on the Soviet target list. American-born Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard obtained satellite-imaging data of the Soviet Union, allowing Israel to acurately target Soviet cities. This showed Israel’s intention to use its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent political lever, or retaliatory capability against the Soviet Union itself. Israel also used American satellite imagery to plan the 7 June 1981 attack on the Tammuz-1 reactor at Osiraq, Iraq. This daring attack, carried out by eight F-16s accompanied by six F-15s punched a hole in the concrete reactor dome before the reactor began operation (and just days before an Israeli election). It delivered 15 delay-fused 2000 pound bombs deep into the reactor structure (the 16th bomb hit a nearby hall). The blasts shredded the reactor and blew out the dome foundations, causing it to collapse on the rubble. This was the world’s first attack on a nuclear reactor.
(PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT RUSSIA WAS ABLE TO PURGE THE JEWISH BOLSHEVIK COMMUNISTS FROM THE KREMLIN STARTING IN THE LATE ’30’s UNDER STALIN. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE JEWISH POWER STRUCTURE WAS GIVEN TOP POSITIONS IN THE U.S.)
Another speculative area concerns Israeli nuclear security and possible misuse. What is the chain of decision and control of Israel’s weapons? How susceptible are they to misuse or theft? With no open, frank, public debate on nuclear issues, there has accordingly been no debate or information concerning existing safeguards. This has led to accusations of “monolithic views and sinister intentions.” Would a right wing military government decide to employ nuclear weapons recklessly? Ariel Sharon, an outspoken proponent of “Greater Israel” was quoted as saying, “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Could the Gush Emunim, a right wing religious organization, or others, hijack a nuclear device to “liberate” the Temple Mount for the building of the third temple? Chances are small but could increase as radicals decry the peace process. A 1997 article reviewing the Israeli Defense Force repeatedly stressed the possibilities of, and the need to guard against, a religious, right wing military coup, especially as the proportion of religious persons in the military increases.[139 ]
THE THIRD TEMPLE’S HOLY OF HOLIES – ISRAEL’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS
By Warner D. Farr, LTC, U.S. Army
The Counterproliferation Papers
Future Warfare Series No. 2
USAF Counterproliferation Center
Air War College – Air University
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
The Counterproliferation Papers Series was established by the USAF Counterproliferation Center to provide information and analysis to U.S. national security policy-makers and USAF officers to assist them in countering the threat posed by adversaries equipped with weapons of mass destruction. Copies of papers in this series are available from the USAF Counterproliferation Center, 325 Chennault Circle, Maxwell AFB AL 36112-6427. The fax number is (334) 953-7538; phone (334) 953-7538.
The internet address for the USAF Counterproliferation Center is:
The Author ii
I. Introduction 1
II. 1948-1962: With French Cooperation 3
III. 1963-1973: Seeing the Project Through to Completion 9
IV. 1974-1999: Bringing the Bomb Up the Basement Stairs 15
Appendix: Estimates of the Israeli Nuclear Arsenal 23
The views expressed in this publication are those solely of the author and are not a statement of official policy or position of the U.S Government, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, or the USAF Counterproliferation Center.
Colonel Warner D. “Rocky” Farr, Medical Corps, Master Flight Surgeon, U.S. Army, graduated from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama before becoming the Command Surgeon, U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He also serves as the Surgeon for the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, and the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. With thirty-three years of military service, he holds an Associate of Arts from the State University of New York, Bachelor of Science from Northeast Louisiana University, Doctor of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Masters of Public Health from the University of Texas, and has completed medical residencies in aerospace medicine, and anatomic and clinical pathology. He is the only army officer to be board certified in these three specialties. Solo qualified in the TH-55A Army helicopter, he received flight training in the T-37 and T-38 aircraft as part of his USAF School of Aerospace Medicine residency.
Colonel Farr was a Master Sergeant Special Forces medic prior to receiving a direct commission to second lieutenant. He is now the senior Special Forces medical officer in the U.S. Army with prior assignments in the 5th, 7th, and 10th Special Forces Groups (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, in Vietnam, the United States, and Germany. He has advised the 12th and 20th Special Forces Groups (Airborne) in the reserves and national guard, served as Division Surgeon, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), and as the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance, guidance and encouragement from my Air War College (AWC) faculty research advisor, Dr. Andrew Terrill, instructor of the Air War College Arab-Israeli Wars course. Thanks are also due to the great aid of the Air University librarians. The author is also indebted to Captain J. R. Saunders, USN and Colonel Robert Sutton, USAF. Who also offered helpful suggestions.
This paper is a history of the Israeli nuclear weapons program drawn from a review of unclassified sources. Israel began its search for nuclear weapons at the inception of the state in 1948. As payment for Israeli participation in the Suez Crisis of 1956, France provided nuclear expertise and constructed a reactor complex for Israel at Dimona capable of large-scale plutonium production and reprocessing. The United States discovered the facility by 1958 and it was a subject of continual discussions between American presidents and Israeli prime ministers. Israel used delay and deception to at first keep the United States at bay, and later used the nuclear option as a bargaining chip for a consistent American conventional arms supply. After French disengagement in the early 1960s, Israel progressed on its own, including through several covert operations, to project completion. Before the 1967 Six-Day War, they felt their nuclear facility threatened and reportedly assembled several nuclear devices. By the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel had a number of sophisticated nuclear bombs, deployed them, and considered using them. The Arabs may have limited their war aims because of their knowledge of the Israeli nuclear weapons. Israel has most probably conducted several nuclear bomb tests. They have continued to modernize and vertically proliferate and are now one of the world’s larger nuclear powers. Using “bomb in the basement” nuclear opacity, Israel has been able to use its arsenal as a deterrent to the Arab world while not technically violating American nonproliferation requirements.
The Third Temple’s Holy of Holies: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons
Warner D. Farr
This is the end of the Third Temple.
– Attributed to Moshe Dayan
during the Yom Kippur War1
As Zionists in Palestine watched World War II from their distant sideshow, what lessons were learned? The soldiers of the Empire of Japan vowed on their emperor’s sacred throne to fight to the death and not face the inevitability of an American victory. Many Jews wondered if the Arabs would try to push them into the Mediterranean Sea. After the devastating American nuclear attack on Japan, the soldier leaders of the empire reevaluated their fight to the death position. Did the bomb give the Japanese permission to surrender and live? It obviously played a military role, a political role, and a [distorted as it may be] peacemaking role. How close was the mindset of the Samurai culture to the Islamic culture? Did David Ben-Gurion take note of the Allied strategy and wonder if the same would work for Israel?2 Could Israel find the ultimate deterrent that would convince her opponents that they could never, ever succeed? Was Israel’s ability to cause a modern holocaust the best way to guarantee never having [“]another[“] one?
The use of unconventional weapons in the Middle East is not new. The British had used chemical artillery shells against the Turks at the second battle of Gaza in 1917. They continued chemical shelling against the Shiites in Iraq in 1920 and used aerial chemicals in the 1920s and 1930s in Iraq.3 [Contrast the “good guy” approach with that of the “bad guys”…]
Israel’s involvement with nuclear technology starts at the founding of the state in 1948. Many talented Jewish scientists immigrated to Palestine during the thirties and forties, in particular, Ernst David Bergmann. He would become the director of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and the founder of Israel’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Bergmann, a close friend and advisor of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, counseled that nuclear energy could compensate for Israel’s poor natural resources and small pool of military manpower. He pointed out that there was just one nuclear energy, not two, suggesting nuclear weapons were part of the plan.4 As early as 1948, Israeli scientists actively explored the Negev Desert for uranium deposits on orders from the Israeli Ministry of Defense. By 1950, they found low-grade deposits near Beersheba and Sidon and worked on a low power method of heavy water production.5
The newly created Weizmann Institute of Science actively supported nuclear research by 1949, with Dr. Bergmann heading the chemistry division. Promising students went overseas to study nuclear engineering and physics at Israeli government expense. Israel secretly founded its own Atomic Energy Commission in 1952 and placed it under the control of the Defense Ministry.6 The foundations of a nuclear program were beginning to develop.
II. 1948-1962: With French Cooperation
It has always been our intention to develop a nuclear potential.
– Ephraim Katzir7
In 1949, Francis Perrin, a member of the French Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear physicist, and friend of Dr. Bergmann visited the Weizmann Institute. He invited Israeli scientists to the new French nuclear research facility at Saclay. A joint research effort was subsequently set up between the two nations. Perrin publicly stated in 1986 that French scientists working in America on the Manhattan Project and in Canada during World War II were told they could use their knowledge in France provided they kept it a secret.8 Perrin reportedly provided nuclear data to Israel on the same basis.9 One Israeli scientist worked at the U.S. Los Alamos National Laboratory and may have directly brought expertise home.10
After the Second World War, France’s nuclear research capability was quite limited. France had been a leading research center in nuclear physics before World War II, but had fallen far behind the U.S., the U.S.S.R., the United Kingdom, and even Canada. Israel and France were at a similar level of expertise after the war, and Israeli scientists could make significant contributions to the French effort. Progress in nuclear science and technology in France and Israel remained closely linked throughout the early fifties. Israeli scientists probably helped construct the G-1 plutonium production reactor and UP-1 reprocessing plant at Marcoule.11 France profited from two Israeli patents on heavy water production and low-grade uranium enrichment.12 In the 1950s and into the early 1960s, France and Israel had close relations in many areas. France was Israel’s principal arms supplier, and as instability spread through French colonies in North Africa, Israel provided valuable intelligence obtained from contacts with sephardic Jews in those countries.
The two nations collaborated, with the United Kingdom, in planning and staging the Suez Canal-Sinai operation against Egypt in October 1956. The Suez Crisis became the real genesis of Israel’s nuclear weapons production program. With the Czech-Egyptian arms agreement in 1955, Israel became worried. When absorbed, the Soviet-bloc equipment would triple Egyptian military strength. After Egypt’s President Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran in 1953, Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion ordered the development of chemical munitions and other unconventional munitions, including nuclear.13 Six weeks before the Suez Canal operation, Israel felt the time was right to approach France for assistance in building a nuclear reactor. Canada had set a precedent a year earlier when it had agreed to build a 40-megawatt CIRUS reactor in India. Shimon Peres, the Director-General of the Defense Ministry and aide to Prime Minister (and Defense Minister) David Ben-Gurion, and Bergmann met with members of the CEA (France’s Atomic Energy Commission). During September 1956, they reached an initial understanding to provide a research reactor. The two countries concluded final agreements at a secret meeting outside Paris where they also finalized details of the Suez Canal operation.14
For the United Kingdom and France, the Suez operation, launched on October 29, 1956, was a total disaster. Israel’s part was a military success, allowing it to occupy the entire Sinai Peninsula by 4 November, but the French and British canal invasion on 6 November was a political failure. Their attempt to advance south along the Suez Canal stopped due to a cease-fire under fierce Soviet and U.S. pressure. Both nations pulled out, leaving Israel to face the pressure from the two superpowers alone. Soviet Premier Bulganin and President Khrushchev issued an implicit threat of nuclear attack if Israel did not withdraw from the Sinai.
On 7 November 1956, a secret meeting was held between Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, and French foreign and defense ministers Christian Pineau and Maurice Bourges-Manoury. The French, embarrassed by their failure to support their ally in the operation, found the Israelis deeply concerned about a Soviet threat. In this meeting, they substantially modified the initial understanding beyond a research reactor. Peres secured an agreement from France to assist Israel in developing a nuclear deterrent. After further months of negotiation, agreement was reached for an 18-megawatt (thermal) research reactor of the EL-3 type, along with plutonium separation technology. France and Israel signed the agreement in October 1957.15 Later the reactor was officially upgraded to 24 megawatts, but the actual specifications issued to engineers provided for core cooling ducts sufficient for up to three times this power level, along with a plutonium plant of similar capacity. Data from insider reports revealed in 1986 would estimate the power level at 125-150 megawatts.16 The reactor, not connected to turbines for power production, needed this increase in size only to increase its plutonium production. How this upgrade came about remains unknown, but Bourges-Maunoury, replacing Mollet as French prime minister, may have contributed to it.17 Shimon Peres, the guiding hand in the Israeli nuclear program, had a close relationship with Bourges-Maunoury and probably helped him politically.18
Why was France so eager to help Israel? DeMollet and then de Gaulle had a place for Israel within their strategic vision. A nuclear Israel could be a counterforce against Egypt in France’s fight in Algeria. Egypt was openly aiding the rebel forces there. France also wanted to obtain the bomb itself. The United States had embargoed certain nuclear enabling computer technology from France. Israel could get the technology from America and pass it through to France. The U.S. furnished Israel heavy water, under the Atoms for Peace program, for the small research reactor at Soreq. France could use this heavy water. Since France was some years away from nuclear testing and success, Israeli science was an insurance policy in case of technical problems in France’s own program.19 The Israeli intelligence community’s knowledge of past French (especially Vichy) anti-Semitic transgressions and the continued presence of former National Socialist collaborators in French intelligence provided the Israelis with some blackmail opportunities.20 The cooperation was so close that Israel worked with France on the preproduction design of early Mirage jet aircraft, designed to be capable of delivering nuclear bombs.21
French experts secretly built the Israeli reactor underground at Dimona, in the Negev desert of southern Israel near Beersheba. Hundreds of French engineers and technicians filled Beersheba, the biggest town in the Negev. Many of the same contractors who built Marcoule were involved. SON (a French firm) built the plutonium separation plants in both France and Israel. The ground was broken for the EL-102 reactor (as it was known to France) in early 1958.
Israel used many subterfuges to conceal activity at Dimona. It called the plant a manganese plant, and rarely, a textile plant. The United States by the end of 1958 had taken pictures of the project from U-2 spy planes, and identified the site as a probable reactor complex. The concentration of Frenchmen was also impossible to hide from ground observers. In 1960, before the reactor was operating, France, now under the leadership of de Gaulle, reconsidered and decided to suspend the project. After several months of negotiation, they reached an agreement in November that allowed the reactor to proceed if Israel promised not to make nuclear weapons and to announce the project to the world. Work on the plutonium reprocessing plant halted. On 2 December 1960, before Israel could make announcements, the U.S. State Department issued a statement that Israel had a secret nuclear installation. By 16 December, this became public knowledge with its appearance in the New York Times. On 21 December, Ben-Gurion announced that Israel was building a 24-megawatt reactor “for peaceful purposes.”22
Over the next year, relations between the U.S. and Israel became strained over the Dimona reactor. The U.S. accepted Israel’s assertions at face value publicly, but exerted pressure privately. Although Israel allowed a cursory inspection by well known American physicists Eugene Wigner and I. I. Rabi, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion consistently refused to allow regular international inspections. The final resolution between the U.S. and Israel was a commitment from Israel to use the facility for peaceful purposes, and to admit a U.S. inspection team twice a year. These inspections began in 1962 and continued until 1969. Inspectors saw only the above ground part of the buildings, not the many levels underground and the visit frequency was never more than once a year. The above ground areas had simulated control rooms, and access to the underground areas was kept hidden while the inspectors were present. Elevators leading to the secret underground plutonium reprocessing plant were actually bricked over.23 Much of the information on these inspections and the political maneuvering around it has just been declassified.24
One interpretation of Ben-Gurion’s “peaceful purposes” pledge given to America is that he interpreted it to mean that nuclear weapon development was not excluded if used strictly for defensive, and not offensive purposes. Israel’s security position in the late fifties and early sixties was far more precarious than now. After three wars, with a robust domestic arms industry and a reliable defense supply line from the U.S., Israel felt much more secure. During the fifties and early sixties a number of attempts by Israel to obtain security guarantees from the U.S. to place Israel under the U.S. nuclear umbrella like NATO or Japan, were unsuccessful. If the U.S. had conducted a forward-looking policy to restrain Israel’s proliferation, along with a sure defense agreement, we could have prevented the development of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
One common discussion in the literature concerns testing of Israeli nuclear devices. In the early phases, the amount of collaboration between the French and Israeli nuclear weapons design programs made testing unnecessary. In addition, although their main efforts were with plutonium, the Israelis may have amassed enough uranium for gun-assembled type bombs which, like the Hiroshima bomb, require no testing. One expert postulated, based on unnamed sources, that the French nuclear test in 1960 made two nuclear powers not one — such was the depth of collaboration between France and Israel.25 There were several Israeli observers at the French nuclear tests and the Israelis had “unrestricted access to French nuclear test explosion data.”26 Israel also supplied essential technology and hardware.27 The French reportedly shipped reprocessed plutonium back to Israel as part of their repayment for Israeli scientific help.
However, this constant, decade long, French cooperation and support was soon to end and Israel would have to go it alone.
III. 1963-1973: Seeing the Project to Completion
Israel would soon need its own, independent, capabilities to complete its nuclear program. Only five countries had facilities for uranium enrichment: the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China. The Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation, or NUMEC, in Apollo, Pennsylvania was a small fuel rod fabrication plant. In 1965, the U.S. government accused Dr. Zalman Shapiro, the corporation president, of “losing” 200 pounds of highly enriched uranium. Although investigated by the Atomic Energy Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other government agencies and inquiring reporters, no answers were available in what was termed the Apollo Affair.29 Many remain convinced that the Israelis received 200 pounds of enriched uranium sometime before 1965.30 One source links Rafi Eitan, an Israeli Mossad agent and later the handler of spy Jonathan Pollard, with NUMEC.31 In the 1990s when the NUMEC plant was disassembled, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found over 100 kilograms of plutonium in the structural components of the contaminated plant, casting doubt on 200 pounds going to Israel.32
The joint venture with France gave Israel several ingredients for nuclear weapons construction: a production reactor, a factory to extract plutonium from the spent fuel, and the design. In 1962, the Dimona reactor went critical; the French resumed work on the underground plutonium reprocessing plant, and completed it in 1964 or 1965. The acquisition of this reactor and related technologies was clearly intended for military purposes from the outset (not “dual-use”), as the reactor has no other function. The security at Dimona (officially the Negev Nuclear Research Center) was particularly stringent. For straying into Dimona’s airspace, the Israelis shot down one of their own Mirage fighters during the Six-Day War. The Israelis also shot down a Libyan airliner with 104 passengers, in 1973, which had strayed over the Sinai.33 There is little doubt that some time in the late sixties Israel became the sixth nation to manufacture nuclear weapons. Other things they needed were extra uranium and extra heavy water to run the reactor at a higher rate. Norway, France, and the United States provided the heavy water and “Operation Plumbat” provided the uranium.
After the 1967 war, France stopped supplies of uranium to Israel. These supplies were from former French colonies of Gabon, Niger, and the Central Africa Republic.34 Israel had small amounts of uranium from Negev phosphate mines and had bought some from Argentina and South Africa, but not in the large quantities supplied by the French. Through a complicated undercover operation, the Israelis obtained uranium oxide, known as yellow cake, held in a stockpile in Antwerp. Using a West German front company and a high seas transfer from one ship to another in the Mediterranean, they obtained 200 tons of yellow cake. The smugglers labeled the 560 sealed oil drums “Plumbat,” which means lead, hence “Operation Plumbat.”35 The West German government may have been involved directly but remained undercover to avoid antagonizing the Soviets or Arabs.36 Israeli intelligence information on the National Socialist past of some West German officials may have provided the motivation — more blackmail.37
Norway sold 20 tons of heavy water to Israel in 1959 for use in an experimental power reactor. Norway insisted on the right to inspect the heavy water for 32 years, but did so only once, in April 1961, while it was still in storage barrels at Dimona. Israel simply promised [Concerning the reliability of such promises, please read up on the “Kol Nidre” recital on the eve of Yom Kippur: “All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.”] that the heavy water was for peaceful purposes. In addition, quantities much more than what would be required for the peaceful purpose reactors were imported. Norway either colluded or at the least was very slow to ask to inspect as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rules required.38 Norway and Israel concluded an agreement in 1990 for Israel to sell back 10.5 tons of the heavy water to Norway. Recent calculations reveal that Israel has used two tons and will retain eight tons more.39
Author Seymour Hersh, writing in the Samson Option says Prime Minister Levi Eshkol delayed starting weapons production even after Dimona was finished.40 The reactor operated and the plutonium collected, but remained unseparated. The first extraction of plutonium probably occurred in late 1965. By 1966, enough plutonium was on hand to develop a weapon in time for the Six-Day War in 1967. Some type of non-nuclear test, perhaps a zero yield or implosion test, occurred on November 2, 1966. After this time, considerable collaboration between Israel and South Africa developed and continued through the 1970s and 1980s. South Africa became Israel’s primary supplier of uranium for Dimona. A Center for Nonproliferation Studies report lists four separate Israel-South Africa “clandestine nuclear deals.” Three concerned yellowcake and one was tritium.41 Other sources of yellowcake may have included Portugal.42
Egypt attempted unsuccessfully to obtain nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union both before and after the Six-Day War. President Nasser received from the Soviet Union a questionable nuclear guarantee instead and declared that Egypt would develop its own nuclear program.43 His rhetoric of 1965 and 1966 about preventive war and Israeli nuclear weapons coupled with overflights of the Dimona rector contributed to the tensions that led to war. The Egyptian Air Force claims to have first overflown Dimona and recognized the existence of a nuclear reactor in 1965.44 Of the 50 American HAWK anti-aircraft missiles in Israeli hands, half ringed Dimona by 1965.45 Israel considered the Egyptian overflights of May 16, 1967 as possible pre-strike reconnaissance. One source lists such Egyptian overflights, along with United Nations peacekeeper withdrawal and Egyptian troop movements into the Sinai, as one of the three “tripwires” which would drive Israel to war.46 There was an Egyptian military plan to attack Dimona at the start of any war but Nasser vetoed it.47 He believed Israel would have the bomb in 1968.48 Israel assembled two nuclear bombs and ten days later went to war.49 Nasser’s plan, if he had one, may have been to acquire and consolidate territorial gains before Israel had a nuclear option.50 He was two weeks too late.
The Israelis aggressively pursued an aircraft delivery system from the United States. President Johnson was less emphatic about nonproliferation than President Kennedy-or perhaps had more pressing concerns, such as Vietnam. He had a long history of both Jewish friends and pressing political contributors coupled with some first hand experience of [“]the Holocaust[“], having toured concentration camps at the end of World War II.51 Israel pressed him hard for aircraft (A-4E Skyhawks initially and F-4E Phantoms later) and obtained agreement in 1966 under the condition that the aircraft would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. The State Department attempted to link the aircraft purchases to continued inspection visits. President Johnson overruled the State Department concerning Dimona inspections.52 Although denied at the time, America delivered the F-4Es, on September 5, 1969, with nuclear capable hardware intact.53
The Samson Option states that Moshe Dayan gave the go-ahead for starting weapon production in early 1968, putting the plutonium separation plant into full operation. Israel began producing three to five bombs a year. The book Critical Mass asserts that Israel had two bombs in 1967, and that Prime Minister Eshkol ordered them armed in Israel’s first nuclear alert during the Six-Day War.54 Avner Cohen in his recent book, Israel and the Bomb, agrees that Israel had a deliverable nuclear capability in the 1967 war. He quotes Munya Mardor, leader of Rafael, the Armament Development Authority, and other unnamed sources, that Israel “cobbled together” two deliverable devices.55
Having the bomb meant articulating, even if secretly, a use doctrine. In addition to the “Samson Option” of last resort, other triggers for nuclear use may have included successful Arab penetration of populated areas, destruction of the Israeli Air Force, massive air strikes or chemical/biological strikes on Israeli cities, and Arab use of nuclear weapons.56
In 1971, Israel began purchasing krytrons, ultra high-speed electronic switching tubes that are “dual-use,” having both industrial and nuclear weapons applications as detonators. In the 1980s, the United States charged an American, Richard Smith (or Smyth), with smuggling 810 krytrons to Israel.57 He vanished before trial and reportedly lives outside Tel Aviv. The Israelis apologized for the action saying that the krytrons were for medical research [“Kol Nidre”!].58 Israel returned 469 of the krytrons but the rest, they declared, had been destroyed in testing conventional weapons. Some believe they went to South Africa.59 Smyth has also been reported to have been involved in a 1972 smuggling operation to obtain solid rocket fuel binder compounds for the Jericho II missile and guidance component hardware.60 Observers point to the Jericho missile itself as proof of a nuclear capability as it is not suited to the delivery of conventional munitions.61
On the afternoon of 6 October 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in a coordinated surprise attack, beginning the Yom Kippur War. Caught with only regular forces on duty, augmented by reservists with a low readiness level, Israeli front lines crumbled. By early afternoon on 7 October, no effective forces were in the southern Golan Heights and Syrian forces had reached the edge of the plateau, overlooking the Jordan River. This crisis brought Israel to its second nuclear alert.
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, obviously not at his best at a press briefing, was, according to Time magazine, rattled enough to later tell the prime minister that “this is the end of the third temple,” referring to an impending collapse of the state of Israel. “Temple” was also the code word for nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Golda Meir and her “kitchen cabinet” made the decision on the night of 8 October. The Israelis assembled 13 twenty-kiloton atomic bombs. The number and in fact the entire story was later leaked by the Israelis as a great psychological warfare tool. Although most probably plutonium devices, one source reports they were enriched uranium bombs. The Jericho missiles at Hirbat Zachariah and the nuclear strike F-4s at Tel Nof were armed and prepared for action against Syrian and Egyptian targets. They also targeted Damascus with nuclear capable long-range artillery although it is not certain they had nuclear artillery shells.62
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was notified of the alert several hours later on the morning of 9 October. The U.S. decided to open an aerial resupply pipeline to Israel, and Israeli aircraft began picking up supplies that day. Although stockpile depletion remained a concern, the military situation stabilized on October 8th and 9th as Israeli reserves poured into the battle and averted disaster. Well before significant American resupply had reached Israeli forces, the Israelis counterattacked and turned the tide on both fronts.
On 11 October, a counterattack on the Golan broke the back of Syria’s offensive, and on 15 and 16 October, Israel launched a surprise crossing of the Suez Canal into Africa. Soon the Israelis encircled the Egyptian Third Army and it was faced with annihilation on the east bank of the Suez Canal, with no protective forces remaining between the Israeli Army and Cairo. The first U.S. flights arrived on 14 October.63 Israeli commandos flew to Fort Benning, Georgia to train with the new American TOW anti-tank missiles and return with a C-130 Hercules aircraft full of them in time for the decisive Golan battle. American commanders in Germany depleted their stocks of missiles, at that time only shared with the British and West Germans, and sent them forward to Israel.64
Thus started the subtle, opaque use of the Israeli bomb to ensure that the United States kept its pledge to maintain Israel’s conventional weapons edge over its foes.65 There is significant anecdotal evidence that Henry Kissinger told President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, that the reason for the U.S. airlift was that the Israelis were close to “going nuclear.”66
A similar Soviet pipeline to the Arabs, equally robust, may or may not have included a ship with nuclear weapons on it, detected from nuclear trace emissions and shadowed by the Americans from the Dardanelles. The Israelis believe that the Soviets discovered Israeli nuclear preparations from COSMOS satellite photographs and decided to equalize the odds.67 The Soviet ship arrived in Alexandria on either 18 or 23 October (sources disagree), and remained, without unloading, until November 1973. The ship may have represented a Soviet guarantee to the Arab combatants to neutralize the Israeli nuclear option.68 While some others dismiss the story completely, the best-written review article concludes that the answer is “obscure.” Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev threatened, on 24 October, to airlift Soviet airborne troops to reinforce the Egyptians cut off on the eastern side of the Suez Canal and put seven Soviet airborne divisions on alert.69 Recent evidence indicates that the Soviets sent nuclear missile submarines also.70 Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine claimed that the two Soviet SCUD brigades deployed in Egypt each had a nuclear warhead. American satellite photos seemed to confirm this. The U.S. passed to Israel images of trucks, of the type used to transport nuclear warheads, parked near the launchers.71 President Nixon’s response was to bring the U.S. to worldwide nuclear alert the next day, whereupon Israel went to nuclear alert a third time.72 This sudden crisis quickly faded as Prime Minister Meir agreed to a cease-fire, relieving the pressure on the Egyptian Third Army.
Shimon Peres had argued for a pre-war nuclear demonstration to deter the Arabs. Arab strategies and war aims in 1967 may have been restricted because of a fear of the Israeli “bomb in the basement,” the undeclared nuclear option. The Egyptians planned to capture an eastern strip next to the Suez Canal and then hold. The Syrians did not aggressively commit more forces to battle or attempt to drive through the 1948 Jordan River border to the Israeli center. Both countries seemed not to violate Israel proper and avoided triggering one of the unstated Israeli reasons to employ nuclear weapons.73 Others discount any Arab planning based on nuclear capabilities.74 Peres also credits Dimona with bringing Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem to make peace.75 This position was seemingly confirmed by Sadat in a private conversation with Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman.76
At the end of the Yom Kippur War (a nation shaking experience), Israel has her nuclear arsenal fully functional and tested by a deployment. The arsenal, still opaque and unspoken, was no longer a secret, especially to the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
IV. 1974-1999: Bringing the Bomb up the Basement Stairs
– Reportedly welded on the first Israeli nuclear bomb77
Shortly after the 1973 war, Israel allegedly fielded considerable nuclear artillery consisting of American 175 mm and 203 mm self-propelled artillery pieces, capable of firing nuclear shells. If true, this shows that Dimona had rapidly solved the problems of designing smaller weapons since the crude 1967 devices. If true, these low yield, tactical nuclear artillery rounds could reach at least 25 miles. The Israeli Defense Force did have three battalions of the 175mm artillery (36 tubes), reportedly with 108 nuclear shells and more for the 203mm tubes. Some sources describe a program to extend the range to 45 miles. They may have offered the South Africans these low yield, miniaturized, shells described as, “the best stuff we got.”78 By 1976, according to one unclassified source, the Central Intelligence Agency believed that the Israelis were using plutonium from Dimona and had 10 to 20 nuclear weapons available.79 [“peaceful purposes”?]
In 1972, two Israeli scientists, Isaiah Nebenzahl and Menacehm Levin, developed a cheaper, faster uranium enrichment process. It used a laser beam for isotope separation. It could reportedly enrich seven grams of Uranium 235 sixty percent in one day.80 Sources later reported that Israel was using both centrifuges and lasers to enrich uranium.81
Questions remained regarding full-scale nuclear weapons tests. Primitive gun-assembled type devices need no testing. Researchers can test non-nuclear components of other types separately and use extensive computer simulations. Israel received data from the 1960 French tests, and one source concludes that Israel accessed information from U.S. tests conducted in the 1950s and early 1960s. This may have included both boosted and thermonuclear weapons data.82 Underground testing in a hollowed out cavern is difficult to detect. A West Germany Army Magazine, Wehrtechnik, in June 1976, claimed that Western reports documented a 1963 underground test in the Negev. Other reports show a test at Al-Naqab, Negev in October 1966.83
A bright flash in the south Indian Ocean, observed by an American satellite on 22 September 1979, is widely believed to be a South Africa-Israel joint nuclear test. It was, according to some, the third test of a neutron bomb. The first two were hidden in clouds to fool the satellite and the third was an “accident” the weather cleared.84 Experts differ on these possible tests. Several writers report that the scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory believed it to have been a nuclear explosion while a presidential panel decided otherwise.85 President Carter was just entering the Iran hostage nightmare and may have easily decided not to alter 30 years of looking the other way.86 The explosion was almost certainly an Israeli bomb, tested at the invitation of the South Africans. It was more advanced than the “gun type” bombs developed by the South Africans.87 One report claims it was a test of a nuclear artillery shell.88 A 1997 Israeli newspaper quoted South African deputy foreign minister, Aziz Pahad, as confirming it was an Israeli test with South African logistical support.89
Controversy over possible nuclear testing continues to this day. In June 1998, a Member of the Knesset accused the government of an underground test near Eilat on May 28, 1998. Egyptian “nuclear experts” had made similar charges. The Israeli government hotly denied the claims.90
Not only were the Israelis interested in American nuclear weapons development data, they were interested in targeting data from U.S. intelligence. Israel discovered that they were on the Soviet target list. American-born Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard obtained satellite-imaging data of the Soviet Union, allowing Israel to target accurately Soviet cities. This showed Israel’s intention to use its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent political lever, or retaliatory capability against the Soviet Union itself. Israel also used American satellite imagery to plan the 7 June 1981 attack on the Tammuz-1 reactor at Osiraq, Iraq. This daring attack, carried out by eight F-16s accompanied by six F-15s punched a hole in the concrete reactor dome before the reactor began operation (and just days before an Israeli election). It delivered 15 delay-fused 2000 pound bombs deep into the reactor structure (the 16th bomb hit a nearby hall). The blasts shredded the reactor and blew out the dome foundations, causing it to collapse on the rubble. This was the world’s first attack on a nuclear reactor.91
Since 19 September 1988, Israel has worked on its own satellite reconnaissance system to decrease reliance on U.S. sources. On that day, they launched the Offeq-1 satellite on the Shavit booster, a system closely related to the Jericho-II missile. They launched the satellite to the west away from the Arabs and against the earth’s rotation, requiring even more thrust. The Jericho-II missile is capable of sending a one ton nuclear payload 5,000 kilometers. Offeq-2 went up on 3 April 1990. The launch of the Offeq-3 failed on its first attempt on 15 September 1994, but was successful 5 April 1995.92
Mordechai Vanunu provided the best look at the Israeli nuclear arsenal in 1985 complete with photographs.93 A technician from Dimona who lost his job, Vanunu secretly took photographs, immigrated to Australia and published some of his material in the London Sunday Times. He was subsequently kidnapped by Israeli agents, tried and imprisoned. His data shows a sophisticated nuclear program, over 200 bombs, with boosted devices, neutron bombs, F-16 deliverable warheads, and Jericho warheads.94 The boosted weapons shown in the Vanunu photographs show a sophistication that inferred the requirement for testing.95 He revealed for the first time the underground plutonium separation facility where Israel was producing 40 kilograms annually, several times more than previous estimates. Photographs showed sophisticated designs which scientific experts say enabled the Israelis to build bombs with as little as 4 kilograms of plutonium. These facts have increased the estimates of total Israeli nuclear stockpiles (see Appendix A).96 In the words of one American, “[the Israelis] can do anything we or the Soviets can do.”97 Vanunu not only made the technical details of the Israeli program and stockpile public but in his wake, Israel began veiled official acknowledgment of the potent Israeli nuclear deterrent. They began bringing the bomb up the basement stairs if not out of the basement.
Israel went on full-scale nuclear alert again on the first day of Desert Storm, 18 January 1991. Seven SCUD missiles were fired against the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa by Iraq (only two actually hit Tel Aviv and one hit Haifa). This alert lasted for the duration of the war, 43 days. Over the course of the war, Iraq launched around 40 missiles in 17 separate attacks at Israel. There was little loss of life: two killed directly, 11 indirectly, with many structures damaged and life disrupted.98 Several supposedly landed near Dimona, one of them a close miss.99 Threats of retaliation by the Shamir government if the Iraqis used chemical warheads were interpreted to mean that Israel intended to launch a nuclear strike if gas attacks occurred. One Israeli commentator recommended that Israel should signal Iraq that “any Iraqi action against Israeli civilian populations, with or without gas, may leave Iraq without Baghdad.”100 Shortly before the end of the war the Israelis tested a “nuclear capable” missile which prompted the United States into intensifying its SCUD hunting in western Iraq to prevent any Israeli response.101 The Israeli Air Force set up dummy SCUD sites in the Negev for pilots to practice on. They found it no easy task.102 American government concessions to Israel for not attacking (in addition to Israeli Patriot missile batteries) were:
Allowing Israel to designate 100 targets inside Iraq for the coalition to destroy, Satellite downlink to increase warning time on the SCUD attacks (present and future), “Technical parity with Saudi jet fighters in perpetuity.”103
All of this validated the nuclear arsenal in the minds of the Israelis. In particular the confirmed capability of Arab states without a border with Israel, the so-called “second tier” states, to reach out and touch Israel with ballistic missiles confirmed Israel’s need for a robust first strike capability.104 Current military contacts between Israel and India, another nuclear power, bring up questions of nuclear cooperation.105 Pakistani sources have already voiced concerns over a possible joint Israeli-Indian attack on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.106 A recent Parameters article speculated on Israel’s willingness to furnish nuclear capabilities or assistance to certain states, such as Turkey.107 A retired Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Amnon Shahak, has declared, “all methods are acceptable in withholding nuclear capabilities from an Arab state.”108
As the Israeli bomb comes out of the basement, open discussion, even in Israel, is occurring on why the Israelis feel they need an arsenal not used in at least two if not three wars. Avner Cohen states: “It [Israel] must be in a position to threaten another Hiroshima to prevent another holocaust.”109 In July 1998 Shimon Peres was quoted in the Jordan Times as saying, “We have built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima, but to have an Oslo,”110 referring to the peace process.
One list of current reasons for an Israeli nuclear capability is:
To deter a large conventional attack,
To deter all levels of unconventional (chemical, biological, nuclear) attacks,
To preempt enemy nuclear attacks,
To support conventional preemption against enemy nuclear assets,
To support conventional preemption against enemy non-nuclear (conventional, chemical, biological) assets,
For waging nuclear war,
The “Samson Option” (last resort destruction).111
The most alarming of these is the nuclear warfighting. The Israelis have developed, by several accounts, low yield neutron bombs able to destroy troops with minimal damage to property.112 In 1990, during the Second Gulf War, an Israeli reserve major general recommended to America that it “use non-contaminating tactical nuclear weapons” against Iraq.113 Some have speculated that the Israelis will update their nuclear arsenal to “micronukes” and “tinynukes” which would be very useful to attack point targets and other tactical or barrier (mining) uses.114 These would be very useful for hardened deeply buried command and control facilities and for airfield destruction without exposing Israeli pilots to combat.115 Authors have made the point that Israeli professional military schools do not teach nuclear tactics and would not use them in the close quarters of Israel. Many Israeli officers have attended American military schools where they learned tactical use in crowded Europe.116
However, Jane’s Intelligence Review has recently reported an Israeli review of nuclear strategy with a shift from tactical nuclear warheads to long range missiles.117 Israel always has favored the long reach, whether to Argentina for Adolf Eichmann, to Iraq to strike a reactor, to Entebbe for hostages, to Tunisia to hit the PLO, or by targeting the Soviet Union’s cities. An esteemed Israeli military author has speculated that Israel is pursuing an R&D program to provide MIRVs (multiple independent reentry vehicles) on their missiles.118
The government of Israel recently ordered three German Dolphin Class 800 submarine, to be delivered in late 1999. Israel will then have a second strike capability with nuclear cruise missiles, and this capability could well change the nuclear arms race in the Middle East.119 Israeli rhetoric on the new submarines labels them “national deterrent” assets. Projected capabilities include a submarine-launched nuclear missile with a 350-kilometer range.120 Israel has been working on sea launch capability for missiles since the 1960s.121 The first basing options for the new second-strike force of nuclear missile capable submarines include Oman, an Arab nation with unofficial Israeli relations, located strategically near Iran.122 A report indicates that the Israel Defense Ministry has formally gone to the government with a request to authorize a retaliatory nuclear strike if Israel was hit with first strike nuclear weapons. This report comes in the wake of a recent Iran Shihab-3 missile test and indications to Israel [pure fabrication] that Iran is two to three years from a nuclear warhead.123 Israeli statements stress that Iran’s nuclear potential would be a problem to all and would require “American leadership, with serious participation of the G-7 . . . .”124
A recent study highlighted Israel’s extreme vulnerability to a first strike and an accompanying vulnerability even to a false alarm.125 Syria’s entire defense against Israel seems to rest on chemical weapons and warheads.126 One scenario involves Syria making a quick incursion into the Golan and then threatening chemical strikes, perhaps with a new, more lethal (protective-mask-penetrable) Russian nerve gas if Israel resists.127 Their use would drive Israel to nuclear use. Israeli development of an anti-missile defense, the Arrow, a fully fielded (30-50128) Jericho II ballistic missile, and the soon-to-arrive strategic submarine force, seems to have produced a coming change in defense force structure. The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, quotes the Israeli Chief of Staff discussing the establishment of a “strategic command to . . . prepare an adequate response to the long term threats. . . “129 [“A ‘Nazi’ beneath every rock”?]
The 1994 accord with Jordan, allowing limited Israeli military presence in Jordanian skies, could make the flying distance to several potential adversaries considerably shorter.130 Israel is concerned about Iran’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons [another vile fabrication] and become a regional leader, coupled with large numbers of Shiite Moslems in southern Lebanon. The Israeli Air Force commanding general issued a statement saying Israel would “consider an attack” if any country gets “close to achieving a nuclear capability.”131 The Israelis are obviously considering actions capable of stopping such programs and are buying aircraft such as the F-15 with sufficient operational range. At the first delivery of these 4,000 kilometer range fighters, the Israeli comment was, “the aircraft would help counter a growing nuclear threat.”132 They consider such regional nuclear programs to be a sufficient cause for war. Their record of accomplishment is clear: having hit the early Iraqi nuclear effort, they feel vindicated by Desert Storm. They also feel that only the American and Israeli nuclear weapons kept Iraq’s Saddam Hussein from using chemical or biological weapons against Israel.133
Israel, like Iran, has desires of regional power. The 1956 alliance with France and Britain might have been a first attempt at regional hegemony. Current debate in the Israeli press considers offering Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and perhaps Syria (after a peace agreement) an Israeli nuclear umbrella of protection.134 A nuclear Iran or Iraq [or so the deception goes] might use its nuclear weapons to protect some states in the region, threaten others, and attempt to control oil prices.135
Another speculative area concerns Israeli nuclear security and possible misuse. What is the chain of decision and control of Israel’s weapons? How susceptible are they to misuse or theft? With no open, frank, public debate on nuclear issues, there has accordingly been no debate or information on existing safeguards. This has led to accusations of “monolithic views and sinister intentions.”1360 Would a right wing military government decide to employ nuclear weapons recklessly? Ariel Sharon, an outspoken proponent of “Greater Israel” was quoted as saying, “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”137 Could the Gush Emunim, a right wing religious organization, or others, hijack a nuclear device to “liberate” the Temple Mount for the building of the third temple? Chances are small but could increase as radicals decry the peace process.138 A 1997 article reviewing the Israeli Defense Force repeatedly stressed the possibilities of, and the need to guard against, a religious, right wing military coup, especially as the proportion of religious persons in the military increases.139
Israel is a nation with a state religion, but its top leaders are not religious Jews. The intricacies of Jewish religious politics and rabbinical law do affect their politics and decision processes. In Jewish law, there are two types of war, one obligatory and mandatory (milkhemet mitzvah) and the one authorized but optional (milkhemet reshut).140 The labeling of Prime Minister Begin’s “Peace for Galilee” operation as a milchemet brera (“war of choice”) was one of the factors causing it to lose support.141 Interpretation of Jewish law concerning nuclear weapons does not permit their use for mutual assured destruction. However, it does allow possession and threatening their use, even if actual use is not justifiable under the law. Interpretations of the law allow tactical use on the battlefield, but only after warning the enemy and attempting to make peace. How much these intricacies affect Israeli nuclear strategy decisions is unknown.142
The secret nature of the Israeli nuclear program has hidden the increasing problems of the aging Dimona reactor and adverse worker health effects. Information is only now public as former workers sue the government. This issue is now linked to continued tritium production for the boosted anti-tank and anti-missile nuclear warheads that Israeli continues to need. Israel is attempting to obtain a new, more efficient, tritium production technology developed in India.143
One other purpose of Israeli nuclear weapons, not often stated, but obvious, is their “use” on the United States. America does not want Israel’s nuclear profile raised.144 They have been used in the past to ensure America does not desert Israel under increased Arab, or oil embargo, pressure and have forced the United States to support Israeli diplomatically against the Soviet Union. Israel used their existence to guarantee a continuing supply of American conventional weapons, a policy likely to continue.145
Regardless of the true types and numbers (see Appendix A) of Israeli nuclear weapons, they have developed a sophisticated system, by myriad methods, and are a nuclear power to be reckoned with. Their nuclear ambiguity has served their purposes well but Israel is entering a different phase of visibility even as their nuclear capability is entering a new phase. This new visibility may not be in America’s interest.146 Many are predicting the Israeli nuclear arsenal will become less useful “out of the basement” and possibly spur a regional arms race. If so, Israel has a 5-10 year lead time at present before mutual assured destruction, Middle East style, will set in. Would regional mutual second strike capability, easier to acquire than superpower mutual second strike capability, result in regional stability? Some think so.147 Current Israeli President Ezer Weizman has stated “the nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional.148
Estimates of the Israeli Nuclear Arsenal
1. Hersh, Seymour M., The Samson Option. Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy (New York: Random House, 1991), 223.
2. Aronson, Slomo and Brosh, Oded, The Politics and Strategy of Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East, the Opacity Theory, and Reality, 1960-1991-An Israeli Perspective (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1992), 20.
3. Karsh, Efraim, Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security (London, England: Frank Cass, 1996), 82.
4. Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 16.
5. Cordesman, Anthony, Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996), 118.
6. Pry, Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 5-6.
7. Quoted in Weissman, Steve and Krosney, Herbert. The Islamic Bomb: The Nuclear Threat to Israel and the Middle East. (New York, New York: Times Books, 1981), 105.
8. “Former Official Says France Helped Build Israel’s Dimona Complex.” Nucleonics Week October 16, 1986, 6.
9. Milhollin, Gary, “Heavy Water Cheaters.” Foreign Policy (1987-88): 101-102.
10. Cordesman, 1991, 127.
11. Federation of American Scientists, “Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program.” 10 December 1997, n.p. On-line. Internet, 27 October 1998. Available from http://www.fas.org/nuke/hew/Israel/Isrhist.html.
12. Nashif, Taysir N., Nuclear Weapons in Israel (New Delhi: S. B. Nangia Books, 1996), 3.
13. Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, 48-49.
14. Bennett, Jeremy, The Suez Crisis. BBC Video. n.d. Videocassette and Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi. Every Spy a Prince. The Complete History of Israel’s Intelligence Community. (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990), 63-69.
15. Weissman and Krosney, 112.
16. “Revealed: The Secrets of Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal” (London) Sunday Times No. 8,461, 5 October 1986, 1, 4-5.
17. Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, 57-59.
18. Peres, Shimon, Battling for Peace. A Memoir (New York, New York: Random House, 1995), 122.
19. Pry, 10.
20. Loftus, John and Aarons, Mark, The Secret War Against the Jews. How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People (New York, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 287-303.
21. Green, Stephen, Taking Sides. America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1984), 152.
22. Cohen, Avner, “Most Favored Nation.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 51, no. 1 (January-February 1995): 44-53.
23. Hersh, The Samson Option, 196.
24. See Cohen, Avner, “Israel’s Nuclear History: The Untold Kennedy-Eshkol Dimona Correspondence.” Journal of Israeli History, 1995 16, no. 2, 159-194 and Cohen, Avner, Comp. “Recently Declassified 1963 Correspondence between President Kennedy and Prime Ministers Ben-Gurion and Eshkol.” Journal of Israeli History, 1995 16, no. 2, 195-207. Much of the documentation has been posted to http:\\www.seas.gwu.edu/nsarchive/israel.
25. Weissman and Krosney, op. cit.,114-117
26. Cohen, op. cit., Israel and the Bomb, 82-83.
27. Spector, Leonard S., The Undeclared Bomb (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ballinger Publishers, 1988), 387 (n.22).
28. Quoted in Stevens, Elizabeth. “Israel’s Nuclear Weapons”A Case Study.” 14 pages. On line. Internet, 23 October 1998. Available from
29. Green, Taking Sides, 148-179 and Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, 1990, 197-198.
30. Weissman and Krosney, 119-124.
31. Black, Ian and Morris, Benny, Israel’s Secret Wars. A history of Israel’s Intelligence Services (New York, New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), 418-419.
32. Hersh, 257.
33. Green, Stephen, Living by the Sword: America and Israel in the Middle East, 1968-1987 (London: Faber, 1988), 63-80.
34. Cordesman, 1991, 120.
35. Weissman and Krosney, 124-128 and Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, 1990, 198-199.
36. Spector, The Undeclared Bomb, 395(n. 57).98-199
37. Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, 1990, 58.
38. Milhollin, 100-119.
39. Stanghelle, Harold, “Israel to sell back 10.5 tons.” Arbeiderbladet, Oslo, Norway, 28 June 1990 in: Center for Nonproliferation Studies, “Nuclear Developments,” 28 June 1990, 34-35; on-line, Internet 22 November 1998, available from http://cns.miis.edu.
40. Hersh, op. cit., 139.
41. Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “Israeli Friends,” ISIS Report, May 1994, 4; on-line, Internet 22 November 1998, available from http://cns.miis.edu.
42. Abecasis, Rachel, “Uranium reportedly offered to China, Israel.” Radio Renascenca, Lisbon, 9 December 1992 quoted in Center for Nonproliferation, “Proliferation Issues,” 23 December, 1992, 25; on-line, Internet 22 November 1998, available from http://cns.miis.edu.
43. Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, op. cit., 231-232 and 256-257.
44. Nordeen, Lon O., Nicolle, David, Phoenix over the Nile (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1996), 192-193.
45. O’Balance, Edgar, The Third Arab-Israeli War (London: Faber and Faber, 1972), 54.
46. Brecher, Michael, Decision in Crisis. Israel, 1967 and 1973 (Berkley, California: University of California Press, 1980), 104, 230-231.
47. Cohen, Avner. “Cairo, Dimona, and the June 1967 War.” Middle East Journal 50, no. 2 (Spring 1996), 190-210.
48. Creveld, Martin van. The Sword and the Olive. A Critical History of the Israeli Defense Force (New York, New York: Public Affairs, 1998), 174.
49. Burrows, William E. and Windrem, Robert, Critical Mass. The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), 282-283.
50. Aronson, Shlomo, Israel’s Nuclear Options, ACIS Working Paper No. 7. Los Angeles, California: University of California Center for Arms Control and International Security, 1977, 3, and Sorenson, David S., “Middle East Regional Studies-AY99,” Air War College: Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, 542.
51. Hersh, op. cit., 126-128.
52. Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, op. cit., 210-213.
53. Spector, Leonard S., “Foreign-Supplied Combat Aircraft: Will They Drop the Third World Bomb?” Journal of International Affairs 40, no. 1(1986): 145 (n. 5) and Green, Living by the Sword, op. cit., 18-19.
54. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 280.
55. Cohen, op. cit., Israel and the Bomb, 237.
56. Ibid., 273-274.
57. Milhollin, op. cit., 103-104.
58. Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, Friend in Deed: Inside the U.S.-Israel Alliance (New York New York: Hyperion, 1994), 299.
59. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 464-465 and Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, op. cit., 1990, 304-305.
60. Spector, The Undeclared Bomb, op. cit., 179.
61. Dowty, Alan. “Israel and Nuclear Weapons.” Midstream 22, no. 7 (November 1976), 8-9.
62. Hersh, op. cit., 217, 222-226, and Weissman and Krosney, op. cit., 107.
63. Green, op. cit., Living by the Sword, 90-99.
64. Loftus and Aarons, op. cit., 316-317.
65 Smith, Gerard C. and Cobban, Helena. “A Blind Eye To Nuclear Proliferation.” Foreign Affairs 68, no. 3(1989), 53-70.
66. Hersh, op. cit., 230-231.
67. O’Balance, Edgar, No Victor, No Vanquished. The Yom Kippur War (San Rafael, California: Presido Press, 1978), 175.
68. Ibid., 234-235 and Aronson, S, op. cit., 15-18.
69. Spector, The Undeclared Bomb, op. cit., 396 (n. 62); Garthoff, Raymond L., Détente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute, 1994), 426, n76 and Bandmann, Yona and Cordova, Yishai. “The Soviet Nuclear Threat Towards the Close of the Yom Kippur War.” Jerusalem Journal of International Relations 1980 5, no. 1, 107-9.
70. Cherkashin, Nikolai, “On Moscow’s Orders.” Russian Life, 39, no. 10 (October 1996), 13-15.
71. Brownlow, Cecil. “Soviets poise three-front global drive. Nuclear weapons in Egypt, artillery buildup at Guantanamo, Communist concentrations in Vietnam aimed at political gains.” Aviation Week and Space Technology 99, no. 19 (5 November 1973), 12-14; Holt, Robert. “Soviet Power Play.” Aviation Week and Space Technology 99, no. 19 (5 November 1973), 7 and Gur-Arieh, Danny, “A non-Conventional Look at Israel During ’73 War.” IsraelWire Tuesday, October 6, 1998 17, 23; on-line, Internet 20 November 1998, available from http://www.israelwire.com/new/981006/9810068.html.
72. Hersh, op. cit., 321-235.
73. Creveld, 1998, op. cit., 220-221.
74. Evron, Yair, Israel’s Nuclear Dilemma (Ithaca, New York: Cornell Publishing, 1994), 62-74.
75. Cohen, Avner, “Peres: Peacemaker, Nuclear Pioneer.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 52, no. 3 (May/June 1996), 16-17 and Aronson, S, op. cit., 11-12.
76. Karsh, op. cit., 86.
77. Quoted in Hersh, op. cit., 180 and Stevens, op. cit., 1-14.
78. Hersh, op. cit., 216, 276 and Kaku, Michio. “Contingency Plans: Nuclear Weapons after the Cold War.” In Altered States: A Reader in the New World Order, Bennis, Phyllis and Moushabeck, Michel, Eds. (New York, New York: 1993), 66.
79. Weissman and Krosney, op. cit., 109.
80. Gillette, Robert, “Uranium Enrichment: Rumors of Israeli Progress with Lasers.” Science 183, no. 4130 (22 March 1974), 1172-1174.
81. Barnaby, Frank, The Invisible Bomb: The Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 1988), 25.
82. “Israel: The Covert Connection.” Frontline, PBS Network, May 16, 1989, quoted in Spector, Leonard S., and McDonough, Mark G., with Medeiros, Evan S., Tracking Nuclear Proliferation. A Guide in Maps and Charts, 1995 (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1995).
83. Nashif, Taysir N., Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East: Dimensions and Responsibilities (Princeton, New Jersey: Kingston Press, 1984), 22-23.
84. Hersh, op. cit., 216.
85. Barnaby, Frank, “Capping Israel’s Nuclear Volcano,” Between War and Peace. Dilemmas of Israeli Security, edited by Efraim Karsh (London, England: Frank Cass, 1996), 98.
86. Hersh, op. cit., 271-275.
87. Nashif, op. cit., 32.
88. Gaffney, Mark, Dimona: The Third Temple? The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation (Brattleboro, Vermont: Amana Books, 1989), 100-101.
89. Pedatzur, Re’uven, “South African Statement On Nuclear Test Said to Serve Israel,” Ha’aretz, 29 July 1997. On line: Internet, 22 November 1998 and Kelley, Robert. “The Iraqi and South African Nuclear W”ôNuclear Abstracts,” 1 March 1996, or on-line, Internet, 22 November 1998, both available from http://cns.miis.edu.
90. “Was there a Nuclear Test near Eilat?” IsraelWire, 16 June 1998, or on line Internet, 22 November, 1998, available from http://www.israelwire.com and “Deputy Defense Minister Denies Israeli Nuclear Testing.” Israeli Wire, June 18, 1998, or on-line. Internet, 13 October 1998, available from http://www.israelwire.com/New/980618/9806184.html.
91. McKinnon, Dan. Bullseye One Reactor. The Story of Israel’s Bold Surprise Air Attack That Destroyed Iraqi’s Nuclear Bomb Facility (Shrewsbury, England: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1987).
92. “Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Report on the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Moscow, 1993.” Journal of Palestine Studies XXII, no. 4 (Summer 1993): 135-140; Creveld, Martin van, Nuclear Proliferation and the Future Of Conflict (New York: The Free Press, 1993), 105; and Clark, Philip. “ôThird successful Israeli satellite launch.” Jane’s Intelligence Review 7, no. 6 (June 1995), 25-26.
93. Sunday Times, London, op. cit., 1,4-5.
94. Toscano, Louis, Triple Cross: Israel, the Atomic Bomb and the Man Who Spilled the Secrets (New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1990).
95. Green, Living by the Sword, op. cit., 134.
96. Spector, The Undeclared Bomb, op. cit., 165-166.
97. Hersh, op. cit., 291.
98. Levran, Aharon, Israeli Strategy after Desert Storm: Lessons from the Second Gulf War (London: Frank Cass, 1997), 1-10.
99. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 278.
100. Cohen, Avner and Miller, Marvin, Nuclear Shadows in the Middle East: Prospects for Arms Control in the Wake of the Gulf Crisis (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1990), 10.
101. Aronson and Brosh, op. cit., 276.
102. Raviv and Melman, op. cit., 399.
103. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 297n and Creveld, 1998, op. cit., 321-322.
104. Levran, op. cit., 8-10.
105. Ahmar, Moonis, “Pakistan and Israel: Distant Adversaries or Neighbors?” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 1996, 20, no.1, 43-44.
106. “Nuclear proliferation didn’t start in 1998 . . .and not in Pakistan nor with Islam,” Middle East Realities, or on-line, Internet, 21 September 1998, available from http://www.middleeast.org/1998_06_28.htm.
107. Garrity, Patrick J. “The Next Nuclear Questions.” Parameters, XXV, no. 4 (Winter 1995-96), 92-111.
108. Cohen, Eliezer. Israel’s best defense: the First Full Story of the Israeli Air Force, (New York, New York: Random House, 1993), 495.
109. Cohen and Miller, op. cit., 18.
110. “Before Meeting with King, Peres Claims Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal was built for Peace,” Jordan Times, July 14, 1998. Quoted in Sorenson, op. cit., 542.
111. Beres, Louis Rene, “Israel’s Bomb in the Basement: A revisiting of `Deliberate Ambiguity’ vs. `Disclosure’, Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security, edited by Efraim Harsh (London, England: Frank Cass, 1996), 113-133.
112. Hersh, op. cit., 319.
113. Amos, Deborah, Lines in the Sand: Desert Storm and the Remaking of the Arab World (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 105.
114. Dowler, Thomas W. and Howard II, Joseph H., “Countering the threat of the well-armed tyrant: A modest proposal for small nuclear weapons,” Strategic Review, XIX, no. 4 (Fall 1991), 34-40.
115. Beres, Louis Rene, “Israel’s bomb in the basement: A revisiting of `Deliberate Ambiguity’ vs. `Disclosure.’ ” In Karsh, Efraim, op. cit., Editor, Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security (London, England: Frank Cass, 1996), 116.
116. Cordesman, op. cit., 1996, 265.
117. Hough, Harold, “Israel reviews its nuclear deterrent,” Jane’s Intelligence Review 10, no.11 (November 1998), 11-13.
118. Creveld, op. cit., 1993, 105.
119. Burrows, and Windrem, op. cit., 311-312 and “Israel begins test of nuclear missile submarines,” The Irish Times, July 2, 1998, or on-line, Internet, 24 December 1998, available from http://www.irish-times.com/irish-times/paper/1998/0702/wor13.html.
120. Melman, Yossi, “Swimming with the Dolphins,” Ha’aretz, Tuesday, June 9, 1998, and “Report: Israel to get Subs with Nuclear Strike Capability,” Jerusalem Post, I July 3, 1998, 3 and Sorenson, op. cit., 543.
121. Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, op. cit., 1990, 344-345, 422-423.
122. Shahak, Israel, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies (London: Pluto Press, 1997), 72-73.
123. Davis, Douglas, “Defense Officials Said Urging Nuclear Second-Strike Capability,” Jerusalem Post, 6 August 1998, 3; or on-line, Internet, 22 November 1998, available from http://cns.miis.edu.
124. Inbar, Efraim, “Israel’s security in a new international environment,” in Karsh, Efraim, Editor, Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security (London, England: Frank Cass, 1996), 41.
125. Hough, Harold, “Could Israel’s Nuclear Assets Survive a First Strike?” Jane’s Intelligence Review, September 1997, 407-410.
126. Terrill, W. Andrew, “The Chemical Warfare Legacy of the Yemen War.” Comparative Strategy, 10 (1991), 109-119.
127. Boyne, Sean, “Across the Great Divide. Will Assad go for the Golan?” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 10, no. 4 (April 1998), 21-24 and Cordesman, 1996, op. cit., 254.
128. Cordesman, op. cit., 1996, 243.
129, Harel, Amos and Barzilai, Amnon, “Mordechai says Arrow alone cannot protect against missiles,” Ha’aretz, 13 January 1999, or on-line, Internet, 13 January 1999, available from http://www3.haaretz.co.il/eng/htmls/3_9.htm
130. Shahak, op. cit., 78-79.
131. Chubin, Shahram, “Does Iran Want Nuclear Weapons?” Survival 37, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 91-93.
132. O’Sullivan, Arich, “New F-15I Warplanes Expand Israel’s Reach,” The Jerusalem Post, 19 January 1997, or on-line, Internet 22 November 1998, available from http://www.jpost.co.il.
133. Karsh, op. cit., 9.
134. Shahak, op. cit., 4-5.
135. Garrity, op. cit., 92-111.
136. Dowty, op. cit., 8.
137. Gaffney, op. cit., 165.
138. Ibid., 37-38 and Friedman, Robert I. Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel’s West Bank Settlement Movement (New York, New York: Random House, 1992), 132-52.
139. Blanche, Ed, “Is the Myth Fading for the Israeli Army? ” Part 1.” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 8, no. 12 (December 1996), 547-550 and Blanche, Ed. “Is the myth fading for the Israeli Army? ” Part 2,” Jane’s Intelligence Review 9, no. 1 (January 1997), 25-28.
140. Cohen, Stuart A., The Scroll or the Sword? Dilemmas of Religion and Military Service in Israel (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1997), 11-24.
141. Creveld, op. cit., 1998, 298.
142. Broyde, Michael J., “Fighting the War and the Peace: Battlefield Ethics, Peace Talks, Treaties, and Pacifism in the Jewish Tradition,” or on-line, Internet, 20 November 1998, available from http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/war3.html.
143. Hough, Harold, op. cit., 1998, 11-12 and Berger, Julian, “Court Fury At Israeli Reactor.” Guardian, 13 October 1997, in Center for Nonproliferation, “Nuclear Abstracts,” 13 October 1997, or on-line, Internet, 22 November 1998, available from http://cns.miis.edu.
144. Creveld, op. cit., 1998, 252.
145. Valry, Nicholas, “Israel’s Silent Gamble with the Bomb,” New Scientist (12 December 1974), 807-09.
146. Harden, Major James D., Israeli Nuclear Weapons and War in the Middle East, Master’s Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, December 1997.
147. Dowdy, op. cit., 20.
148. Aronson, Geoffrey, “Hidden Agenda: US-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question,” Middle East Journal, 46, no. 4 (Autumn 1992), 619-630.
149. Data from Time, 12 April 1976, quoted in Weissman and Krosney, op. cit., 107.
150. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 280 and Cohen, Israel and the Bomb, op. cit., 273-274.
151. Tahtinen, Dale R., The Arab-Israel Military Balance Today (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1973), 34.
152. “How Israel Got the Bomb.” Time, 12 April 1976, 39.
153. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 302.
154. Kaku, op. cit., 66 and Hersh, op. cit., 216.
155. Valéry, op. cit., 807-09.
156. Data from CIA, quoted in Weissman and Krosney, op. cit., 109.
157. Ottenberg, Michael, “Estimating Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities,” Command, 30 (October 1994), 6-8.
158. Pry, op. cit., 75.
159. Ibid., 111.
160. Data from NBC Nightly News, quoted in Milhollin, op. cit., 104 and Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 308.
161. Data from Vanunu quoted in Milhollin, op. cit., 104.
162. Harkavy, Robert E. “After the Gulf War: The Future of the Israeli Nuclear Strategy,” The Washington Quarterly (Summer 1991), 164.
163. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 308.
164. Albright, David, Berkhout, Frans and Walker, William, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996. World Inventories, Capabilities, and Policies (New York: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute And Oxford University Press, 1997), 262-263.
165. Hough, Harold, “Israel’s Nuclear Infrastructure,” Jane’s Intelligence Review 6, no. 11 (November 1994), 508.
166. Ibid., 262-263.
167. Spector, and McDonough, with Medeiros, op. cit., 135.
168. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 283-284.
169. Cordesman, op. cit., 1996, 234.
170. Ibid., 234.
171. Ibid., 230, 243.
172. Brower, Kenneth S., “A Propensity for Conflict: Potential Scenarios and Outcomes of War in the Middle East,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, Special Report no. 14, (February 1997), 14-15.
173. Albright, Berkhout, and Walker, op. cit., 262-263.
USAF Counterproliferation Center
The USAF Counterproliferation Center was established in 1998 to provide education and research to the present and future leaders of the USAF, and thereby help them better prepare to counter the threat from weapons of mass destruction.
Barry R. Schneider, Director
USAF Counterproliferation Center
325 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB AL 36112-6427k
(334) 953-7538 (DSN (493-7538)
USAF site location for this report:
This report is also posted at:
Israel’s Open Secret: Nuclear Armed and Dangerous
by Stephen Lendman
April 24th, 2010
Source: Dissident Voice
For many years, Israel’s open secret is that it’s one of eight known nuclear powers, including America and Russia with about 97% of the world’s arsenal according to Helen Caldicott in her book Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. The others are Britain, France, China, India, and Pakistan — North Korea a declared but unverified one.
In her January 20, 2009 Canadian Medical Association Journal article titled “Obama and the opportunity to eliminate nuclear weapons,” Caldicott wrote:
“The Cold War is over, but the threat of nuclear war is not. Little progress has been made since 1989 when the Berlin Wall collapsed. In fact, the threat of nuclear annihilation has escalated. In 1972, when 5 nuclear nations… signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they agreed to rapidly disarm. They have done the opposite,” resulting in a greater than ever threat, the Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review and US-Russia deal doing nothing to reverse it.
In his 1991 book, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and America Foreign Policy, Seymour Hersh discussed its strategy to launch a massive nuclear counterattack if it felt its existence threatened, the stark message being the next regional war may be nuclear.
In his 1997 book, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, Israel Shahak said that, helped by the Israeli Lobby (and Christian Zionists), “Israel (is) clearly prepar(ing) itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East (with no) hesitati(on) to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”
Shahak also explained that Israel regards “the launching of missiles (onto its territory) as ‘nonconventional’ regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas.” In turn, Israel’s nuclear doctrine dictates that a “nonconventional” attack requires one in response, meaning a nuclear one, the foundation of its grand strategy, according to Shahak.
According to Hebrew University’s Professor of Military History Martin Van Creveld, “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you (it) will happen before Israel goes under.”
Israel maintains a double standard. It won’t let another Middle East state acquire nuclear weapons, but will never give up its own or the right to use them preemptively.
Background on Israel’s Nuclear Development
It began with its 1948 founding, David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first prime minister) having told Ehud Avriel, a European operative and later MK, to recruit East European Jewish scientists who could “either increase the capacity to kill masses or to cure masses; both are important.”
One was Avraham Marcus Klingberg, later an Israeli chemical and biological weapons (CBW) expert and deputy director of the Israel Institute of Biological Research in Ness Ziona, south of Tel Aviv. More on Israel’s CBW program below.
Another was Ernst David Bergmann, “father of the Israeli bomb” in charge of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC). Ben-Gurion was determined to have a “nuclear option” and other “non-conventional” weapons (WMDs) to counter the Arabs’ numerical advantage. In his farewell address to the Israeli Armaments Development Authority (RAFAEL), Ben-Gurion defended the strategy saying:
“I am confident, based not only on what I heard today, that our science can provide us with the weapons that are needed to deter our enemies from waging war against us.”
Ben-Gurion and later prime minister Shimon Peres became the leading forces behind Israel’s nuclear and CBWs programs.
In the late 1940s, Israel and France began collaborating, at the time the IDF Science Corps searched the Negev desert for recoverable uranium. In 1952, the IAEC was established. The Dimona Nuclear Research Center/reactor was secretly completed in 1964 near Bersheeba in the Negev — a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor/plutonium reprocessing plant to make nuclear weapons. Designed as a 24 megawatt facility, its cooling system had far more capacity than needed, none for electrical generation, and its plutonium reprocessing capability signified an intent to produce nuclear weapons.
After the 1967 Six Day War, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan ordered full-scale production, averaging 4-12 bombs per year. US presidents since Lyndon Johnson supported the program. At the same time, it is believed that testing took place in the Negev, jointly with France in Algeria, later in the Indian Ocean, and perhaps elsewhere.
By the early 1970s, Israel had advanced nuclear technology, world class scientists, and several dozen bombs ready to launch. Today it’s believed it has hundreds and a delivery system able to hit distant targets accurately.
Earlier, with inadequate uranium supplies, it acquired some clandestinely, and by the late 1960s through close collaboration with South Africa — supplying technological expertise in return for the needed material, the arrangement lasting until apartheid ended in the early 1990s.
France and South Africa were Israel’s main collaborators, but also America by going along, staying silent to this day, and initially providing a 5 megawatt highly enriched uranium research reactor as part of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program. According to journalist Mark Gaffney, Israel’s program “was possible only because of (its) calculated deception… and willing complicity on the part of the US.” [Complicity which, as stressed further above, began only after John F. Kennedy’s assassination.]
Israeli scientists were trained at US universities and had access to domestic weapons labs. Since the early 1970s, advanced technology transfers were made, including supercomputers able to design sophisticated nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Mordechai Vanunu’s mid-1980s documented revelations provided proof.
Mordechai Vanunu: Heroic Whistleblower/Victim of Israeli Retaliatory Viciousness
A Dimona nuclear technician, he smuggled out dozens of photos and scientific documents, published by the London Sunday Times on October 5, 1986, headlined:
“Revealed — the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal/Atomic technician Mordechai Vanunu reveals secret weapons production,” saying: “THE SECRETS of a subterranean factory engaged in the manufacture of Israeli nuclear weapons have been uncovered by the Sunday Times Insight team.
Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing nuclear atomic warheads for the last 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons, with yields big enough to destroy entire cities.”
The Times named Vanunu as its source, having worked at Dimona for nearly 10 years in “Machon 2 — a top secret, underground bunker built to provide the vital components necessary for weapons production…”
Nuclear experts examined Vanunu’s documents, called them genuine, and concluded that Israel’s sophisticated technology enabled it “to build up a formidable nuclear arsenal.”
According to Theodore Taylor, a world expert at the time:
“There should no longer be any doubt that Israel is, and for at least a decade has been, a fully-fledged nuclear weapons state… considerably more advanced than (earlier) indicated…”
Other top nuclear scientists agreed — Israel was, and today is, a world nuclear power, possessing sophisticated technology and weapons. Vanunu’s revelations cost him dearly. On October 12, 1986, The Times headlined his September 30 disappearance, five days before his story broke.
Mossad lured him to Rome, then drugged, beat, and kidnapped him. He was secretly tried in 1986-87, and sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage and treason in harsh isolated confinement in a six square meter cell.
Released in 2004, his behavior and movements were restricted. As a result, harassing arrests followed after giving foreign journalists interviews and trying to leave Israel. He said he suffered “cruel and barbaric treatment” in prison, which comes as no surprise since torture is official Israeli policy, usually for Palestinians, but for anyone security services target.
On July 2, 2007, Vanunu was again imprisoned for six months for speaking to foreign journalists, later reduced to three months by the Jerusalem District Court “In light of (his) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy.”
Daniel Ellsberg called him “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era.” He says “I am neither a traitor nor a spy, I only wanted the world to know what was happening.” On December 28, 2009, he was arrested again following his alleged meeting with his girlfriend, a Norwegian national, then transferred to house arrest.
On April 14, 2010, Vanunu said “The restrictions, not to leave the country for one more year (were) renewed. Now 7 years since my release AFTER 18 years in an Israeli PRISON.”
He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize each year from 1988-2004. In March 2009, he asked the Nobel Committee to remove his name from consideration, and in February 2010 again declined the honor.
In 1979, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize, “for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people,” and in 2001, Norway’s University of Tromsoe honored him as a Doctor Honoris Causa (History).
John Steinbach on Israel’s Nuclear Program
In 2009, The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR- nuclearfiles.org) published Steinbach’s paper titled, “The Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program,” saying:
“With several hundred weapons and a robust delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power, and now rivals France and China in terms of the size of its nuclear arsenal,” despite an official ambiguity about an advanced sophisticated program. As a result, a combination of expert analysis and whistleblower revelations provided what’s known. Also occasional slips, like in December 2006 when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Germany’s Sat. 1 channel:
“Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly, threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel and Russia?” Backtracking after a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said:
“Israel has said many times — and I also said this to German television in an interview — that we will not be the first country that introduces nuclear weapons to the Middle East… That was our position (earlier). That is our position (now) — nothing has changed.” [Doublespeak?]
Since the 1970s, Israel’s official position is that it chose “an option to produce electricity using nuclear reactors. (This) requires promoting nuclear knowledge and research, preparing sites suitable for building nuclear power plants,” and weighing the economic benefits.
According to Steinbach:
“Despite this claim, an exhaustive search of publicly available sources indicates the existence of no meaningful Israeli civilian nuclear energy program, past or present…. From its inception, the Israeli nuclear program has centered on developing a nuclear weapons program, with any other nuclear program being incidental.”
Steinbach also cites estimates of Israel’s arsenal at “from 100 to over 400 bombs,” there being “little doubt that (its) weapons are among the world’s most sophisticated, and largely designed for war fighting.” They include:
– “boosted fission weapons and small neutron bombs, designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long-term radiation; in essence, designed to kill people while leaving property intact;”
– long range ballistic missiles;
– sophisticated aircraft able to deliver a nuclear strike;
– cruise missiles, artillery shells, and land mines with the same capability;
– “In June 2000, an Israeli submarine launched a cruise missile that hit a target 950 miles away, making Israel only the third nation (besides) the US and Russia with that capability;”
– Israel maintains triad strength, including strategic bombers, ballistic missiles, and submarines, able to strike well beyond the Middle East; and
– overall, Israel’s capability “is much greater than any conceivable need for defensive deterrence;” like America, it’s for preemptive offense, and given both nations’ belligerence, some day they may launch them aggressively without cause, claiming, of course, it’s defensive.
According to Jane’s Intelligence Review, Dimona’s reactor “is suffering severe damage from 35 years of operation,” worrisome enough for Israeli nuclear scientists to call for its shutdown to avert a potential catastrophe. Also at issue are internal radiological hazards, revealed on a March 2003 BBC program with five Dimona workers discussing the effects on their health.
Israel’s Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW)
Israel signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) but didn’t ratify it. It refused to sign the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and maintains a policy of CBW ambiguity. It’s not known but believed that its Nes Tziyona Biological Institute produces sophistical chemical and biological weapons and state-of-the-art delivery systems.
However, in 1993, the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment WMD proliferation assessment included Israel as a nation having undeclared offensive chemical warfare capabilities. In 1998, former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Bill Richardson said:
“I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time. There’s no doubt they’ve had these for years.”
It’s also believed it has a sophisticated BW capability, and is likely producing, maintaining, and updating its stockpile. [And, in spite of all evidence, it is precisely these reports that Israel routinely dismisses as “modern day blood-libel.”]
On August 7, 2006, Paola Manduca’s Global Research article headlined, “New and unknown deadly weapons used by Israeli forces: ‘direct energy weapons, chemical and/or biological agents, in a macabre experiment of future warfare.”
It referred to the summer Lebanon/Gaza offensives, citing reports of “New and strange symptoms… reported amongst the wounded and the dead.
Bodies with dead tissue and no apparent wounds; ‘shrunken’ corpses; civilians with heavy damage to lower limbs that require amputation, which is nevertheless followed by unstoppable necrosis (dying cells and living tissue) and death; descriptions of extensive internal wounds with no trace of shrapnel, corpses blackened but not burnt, and others heavily wounded that did not bleed.”
On July 11, 2006, Ma’an News Service cited the Palestinian health ministry saying Israel used a new type explosive in Gaza, containing “toxins and radioactive materials which burn and tear the victim’s body from the inside and leave long term deformations.”
On July 11, 2006, Gulf News said a Palestinian doctor “accused Israel of using a type of chemical ammunition which causes burns and injuries in soft tissue and cannot be traced by X-ray.” Severe internal wounds were reported.
Since the second Intifada’s inception, reports cite “unknown gas” attacks, possibly a nerve agent, anyone breathing it losing consciousness immediately for about 24 hours with high fevers and rigid muscles. Some needed urgent blood transfusions. Asked but not known is whether this is chemical/and or biological warfare.
International law bans these weapons. Israel tests new ones in conflict zones — in 2006 in Lebanon and in 2008-2009 against Gazans during Operation Cast Lead .
Treating the victims, Norwegian Dr. Mads Gilbert cited white phosphorous that burns flesh to the bone. Also depleted uranium and a new close-range explosive causing severe injuries, including battlefield amputations. Children, he said, had their legs cut off, abdomens sliced open, or simply killed outright.
On September 9, 2004, Haaretz (by DPA) headlined, “ElBaradei: Israel’s nuclear arms blocking Mideast peace,” quoting him from the Sydney Morning Herald saying:
Addressing Israel’s nuclear arsenal must be part of a peace process settlement. “This is not really sustainable that you have Israel sitting with nuclear weapons capability there while everyone else is part of the non-proliferation regime…. It is a very emotional issue in the Middle East.”
While Israel maintains ambiguity and world leaders keep mum, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, not shy about confronting Israel, said this before attending Obama’s nuclear summit:
“We have yet to see an international community, which is so sensitive about Iran’s nuclear program, taking a firm stance against Israel,” a notorious nuclear outlaw. “We do not want to see nuclear armament in our region. Our policy on this issue is very clear no matter which country has it. That could be Israel or Iran or any other country.”
On April 14 in Paris, Erdogan called Israel the biggest threat to Middle East peace, not just because of its nuclear arsenal, but for its disproportionate force against Palestinians. His comments came a day after Israel compared him to Libya’s Gaddafi and Venezuela’s Chavez, a sign of continued frayed relations between the two nations, including an angry exchange with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the January World Economic Forum.
He’s now confronting Israel’s nuclear threat, a real one under its first strike doctrine to destroy the entire region if threatened. With its history of open belligerence, the possibility is too great to ignore, and too important not to confront given the consequences if initiated.