The year was 1986. For the previous decade, a man named Mordecai Vanunu had been employed as a “plant technician” at a highly secure “top secret” facility located deep in the desolate Negev Desert region of southern “Israel’, roughly 7 miles southeast of the town of Dimona. Like most “underground” facilities, the Dimona installation was (and is) HIGHLY “compartmentalized” – meaning simply that employees were/are strictly commanded to “just do your job” and not ask questions. Vanunu was told repeatedly to mind his business and simply to “turn his bolts” when on shift. This compartmentalization was/is designed to keep employees from realizing the true nature of their employment – the fact that they were/are busy constructing the ultimate weapons of mass destruction – Hydrogen Thermonuclear Devices!!!
Technician Vanunu was curious, however. He desired to know what was behind certain “forbidden doors” at Dimona. He watched for his chance, and when an upper-level supervisor was showering, Vanunu borrowed his keys, and with a smuggled camera, proceeded to explore the Dimona facility. He realized to his horror, that what he had likely suspected for years was in fact true – his nation called Israel had been building nuclear bombs for decades. All kinds of nukes, in fact. Big ones, small ones, and tactical ones designed to target and destroy steel pillars in massive buildings, for instance. Vanunu had PROOF. He had snapped over 60 pictures. He then contacted an investigative journalist from the U.K., and told his story.
The retribution from his home state of Israel was swift in coming. The MOSSAD enlisted the help of a woman who knew Mordecai, and lured him to Italy. There, with help from the fellow Edomite Vatican, Vanunu was quickly captured, drugged, and shipped back to Israel. A secret trial ensued, and this whistle-blowing “traitor” and “spy” was sentenced to 18 years of solitary confinement. Many of the Israeli officials wanted him swiftly executed – and if he was not a pure-blood Edomite Ashkenazi, he likely would have been.
While in his Israeli prison cell, Vanunu whiled away his time by composing poetry. He knew he wasn’t a “Spy” – just a simple, honest man. Here is one such poem expressing his philosophy of WHY he decided to blow the whistle, as well as explaining the “compartmentalization” of Dimona – not to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing – and of course, explaining the Israeli “elitists” and their agendas:
I Am Your Spy
I am the clerk, the technician, the mechanic, the driver.
They said, Do this, do that, don’t look left or right, don’t read the text. Don’t look at the whole machine.
You are only responsible for this one bolt. For this one rubber-stamp.
This is your only concern. Don’t bother with what is above you.
Don’t try to think for us. Go on, drive. Keep going. On, on.
So they thought, the big ones, the smart ones, the futurologists.
There is nothing to fear. Not to worry.
Everything’s ticking just fine.
Our little clerk is a diligent worker. He’s a simple mechanic.
He’s a little man.
Little men’s ears don’t hear, their eyes don’t see.
We have heads, they don’t.
Answer them, said he to himself, said the little man, the man with a head of his own.
Who is in charge? Who knows where this train is going?
Where is their head? I too have a head.
Why do I see the whole engine,
Why do I see the precipice– is there a driver on this train?
The clerk driver technician mechanic looked up.
He stepped back and saw — what a monster.
Can’t believe it. Rubbed his eyes and — yes, it’s there all right.
I’m all right. I do see the monster. I’m part of the system.
I signed this form. Only now I am reading the rest of it.
This bolt is part of a bomb. This bolt is me.
How did I fail to see, and how do the others go on fitting bolts?
Who else knows?
Who has seen? Who has heard? — The emperor really is naked.
I see him. Why me? It’s not for me. It’s too big.
Rise and cry out. Rise and tell the people. You can.
I, the bolt, the technician, mechanic? — Yes, you.
You are the secret agent of the people. You are the eyes of the nation.
Agent-spy, tell us what you’ve seen. Tell us what the insiders, the clever ones, have hidden from us.
Without you, there is only the precipice. Only catastrophe.
I have no choice. I’m a little man, a citizen, one of the people,
but I’ll do what I have to. I’ve heard the voice of my conscience and there’s nowhere to hide.
The world is small, small for Big Brother.
I’m on your mission. I’m doing my duty. Take it from me.
Come and see for yourselves. Lighten my burden. Stop the train.
Get off the train. The next stop — nuclear disaster. The next book, the next machine.
No. There is no such thing.
Now, dear readers, the “little men” of Israel are beginning to awaken! They hear the voice of their Prime Minister Netanyahu declaring to AIPAC in America all the reasons why Iran must not get nukes, yet Israel has had them for decades, and have USED THEIR POWER AND FEAR! They hear all the “reasons” why Iran must be stopped – but thanks to Mordecai Vanunu – they know that ALL THESE “REASONS” are exactly what Israel itself has done since 1965. Now we know why Christ called the Edomite Pharisees, “Hypocrites”!!
The TRUTH is coming out, folks. Here is an Israeli TV clip. (There is no sound, only captions.) This is incredible footage!
Vanunu boldly declared his TRUTH to the Western media. He boldly declared that the MOSSAD had orchestrated the assassination of President John Kennedy because Kennedy had DEMANDED complete transparency from Israel at the Dimona facility in its beginning phases.
Of course, the Edomite-controlled American media never reported this incredible story to the public, even though Vanunu was absolutely correct.
Kennedy’s demands and OUTRAGE over the theft of America’s nuclear secrets by Israel were first vented to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in the spring of 1963, and he quickly resigned because of it. The following letter was then sent in July of 1963 to the new 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
This letter was written the day after the 4th of July, 1963 – Independence Day. Less than five months later, President John F. Kennedy was dead from an assassin’s bullet. Days later, the designated dupe patsy named Oswald was gunned down on camera by a Jewish mafia hitman named Jack Rubinstein, who later changed his name to the more Anglo name of Jack Ruby! This is not coincidence according to Moredecai Vanunu. I for one believe him.
Watching the Israeli TV video clip above, consider that Dimona manufactures weaponized tritium for use in their manufacturing of so-called “tactical” nukes – i.e. small bombs capable of disintegrating concrete and steel fortified “bunkers” of their enemies. It would also explain how the massive steel columns of the twin towers became pulverized. It would also explain how the dust that settled over Manhattan recorded very high levels of radioactive tritium as well.
Finally, please consider this incredible report by Colonel Warner Farr – written just TWO YEARS before 9-11, dated September, 1999. Colonel Farr cryptically declares: “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.” In other words, Colonel Farr outlined the reality of “nuclear blackmail” on the United States in 1999!!!
Never forget that Israel was founded by international “bankster” thugs like mafioso kingpin Meyer Lansky – who in his later years, was granted “asylum” in Israel to escape criminal prosecution in the U.S. Like the proverbial bully in the schoolyard, Israel has been stealing American citizen’s “lunch money” since JFK was assassinated in 1963. Through the specter of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) thanks to its vast nuclear arsenal (including submarine ICBM missiles) – this rogue state continues to dictate its increasingly vociferous demands – an agenda seeking one thing – EDOMITE CONTROL AND DOMINION OVER ALL CHRISTIAN NATIONS!
We learn from Colonel Farr’s 1999 report the following:
1. The attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 by Israel (a clear act of war with American casualties) was because this “spy ship” had intercepted detailed Intelligence concerning Dimona’s nukes and orders for deployment.
2. “Israel’s nuclear ambiguity (not publicly admitting nor denying their nuke arsenal) 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.”
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 peacemaking role. How close was the mindset of the Samurai culture to the Islamic culture? Did David Ben-Gurion take note 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
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 Nazi 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 an 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.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 Nazi past of some West German officials may have provided the motivation.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 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 antiaircraft 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 gain 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.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
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 recon- naissance 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, Israeli began veiled official acknowledgement 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 nuclear warfighting,
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 Adolph Eichmann, to Iraq to strike a reactor, Entebbe for hostages, 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 that Iran is two to three years from a nuclear warhead.123 Israeli statements stress that Iran’s nuclear potential would be 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
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 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-15I 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 nation 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 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 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.
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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).
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93. Sunday Times, London, op. cit., 1,4-5.
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97. Hersh, op. cit., 291.
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99. Burrows and Windrem, op. cit., 278.
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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.
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112. Hersh, op. cit., 319.
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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.
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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.
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