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Israel's Nuclear Weapons, the French connection, and more

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 09:53 PM
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Israel's Nuclear Weapons, the French connection, and more
Note: This has nothing to do with the current crisis (ie as to pertaining why I posted it), I just happend on it while looking up nuclear proliferation information and found it interesting. One reason being is that I was surprised at the level of co-operation between the French and Israelis on Nuclear technology, and how the US was somewhat sideswiped by it.

I thought it might be a good educational source (to go along with many others folks have posted here. )

Abstract

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.


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.

To act in such a way that the Jews who died in the gas chambers would be the last Jews to die without defending themselves.

- Golda Meir

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/cpc-pubs/farr.htm

A well written and indepth article (as is usual from au.af.mil imho).
A lot of discussion on tactical nukes, Iraq, micro nukes, Syria's capabilities, and info on the ME in general.
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