New Eastern Outlook
by Vladimir Platov
In early February, the Pentagon declassified reports on Israel’s nuclear weapons program which was carried out until 1987. According to these documents, Israeli scientists were capable of producing a hydrogen bomb by that time. Although these facts were largely ignored by the Western media, some analysts have noticed that the declassification of these secret reports suspiciously coincided with the recent, rapidly deteriorating relationship between the US and Israel. As Tel Aviv started a massive campaign of criticism aimed at the Obama administration, both in the US media and worldwide, the Pentagon’s revelations were quick to follow. It is also noteworthy that only the facts on the Israeli nuclear weapons program were declassified, while information regarding similar activities of NATO allies (in particular Italy, France, and West Germany) remained locked up.
The 386 pages report “Сritical technology assessment in Israel and Nato nations,” was prepared in 1987 by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and examined the capabilities Israel had already had at that time to produce nuclear weapons. In particular, the study underlines the fact that Israel’s secret laboratories, engaged in the development of an atomic bomb, were on par with the key research nuclear arsenals of the US: Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
According to this report, by the mid-80s Israeli experts were at the same stage of research and development of various nuclear weapons the hydrogen bomb in particular, reached by American scientists between 1955-1960. IDA experts were courageous enough to recognize that in certain areas the Israelis have even surpassed their American colleagues of the time, in particular those working in the “Raphael” Israeli secret lab, who had managed to propose unconventional ways of achieving nuclear fission that would have allowed them to create their own version of the hydrogen bomb.
Under these conditions, one should revisit The Sunday Times article “Revealed: The Secrets of Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal” that was published on October 5, 1986. This article was based on the revelations of an Israeli nuclear scientist – Mordechai Vanunu – who disclosed the secrets of the Israeli nuclear program.
This 31 year-old Israeli expert on nuclear weapons had, by 1986, already been working for 10 years in a secret atomic center, Machon 2, that was built under the Negev desert and from the mid-60s had already been producing nuclear weapons. Then, facts and pictures that were presented by Mordechai to international experts caught them by surprise. They had to admit that by the mid-80s Israel became the sixth nuclear power after the United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France and China, although it did its best to conceal this information. Even by that time the Israeli nuclear potential was much higher than that of India, Pakistan and South Africa, which were also suspected of developing nuclear weapons.
According to this whistle-blowing Israeli scientist, by the mid-80s the Jewish state had secret capabilities of plutonium production for more than 20 years, which would eventually reach over the years to the level of 40 kilograms annually, which is enough to produce 10 nuclear bombs. During the 80s, Israel also came into possession of equipment necessary for the production of thermonuclear devices. In particular, a French built reactor with a capacity of 26 megawatts was upgraded by Israeli scientists to reach a capacity of 150 megawatts, which allowed Israel to engage in the production of plutonium.
Nuclear specialists, which were commenting on this article in the The Sunday Times, confirmed that by 1986 Israel could have had 100-200 nuclear bombs.
This information provides a reasonable understanding of Israel’s commitment to maintaining a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East at whatever cost by blocking their potential adversaries from acquiring nuclear weapons. In particular, Tel Aviv recklessly launched air strikes on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq on June 7, 1981, and is now followed by a likewise negative approach toward the Iranian nuclear program.
In light of these publications and official US recognition of Israel as a nuclear power that has been in possession of nuclear devices for more than half a century, it is imperative for international players to begin a discussion of this issue in the UN, forcing Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and taking the shipment of such weapons in and out Tel Aviv under rigid international control.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”