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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Israeli Nuclear History

Documents on the history of Israeli nuclear development. See also the related collections of the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, Dimona research center, NARA, RG 59, Records of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy and Outer Space, General Records Relating to Atomic Energy, 1948-62, box 501, Country File Z1.50 Israel f. Reactors 1960)

  • July 01, 1964

    Letter from D. Arkell, Defense Intelligence Staff, to R. J. T. McLaren, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office

    According to D. Arkell of the Defence Intelligence Staff, Canadian intelligence was now doubtful about the reliability of their reports on the Argentine-Israeli uranium sale.

  • July 06, 1964

    Letter from Arthur R. H. Kellas, British Embassy in Tel Aviv, to Alan C. Goodison, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office

    In response to Alan Goodison's April 29 letter, which referred to evidence for an Israeli plutonium separation facility, Arthur Kellas, counselor to the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, states that the British Embassy had “not seen such evidence [for a separation facility] and should be grateful to know what it is."

  • July 15, 1964

    Airgram CA-528 from the Department of State to US Embassies in Israel and Argentina, 'Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium'

    This joint State Department and CIA message reported an unconfirmed intelligence of an Argentine-Israeli agreement on 3 November 1963, and requested information on the specifics of the deal by 1 September 1964.

  • August 21, 1964

    Letter from Alan C. Goodison, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office, to C. J. Audland, British Embassy in Buenos Aires

    Alan Goodison reported that U.S. officials were skeptical of the Canadian report because their sources had no information about an Argentine-Israeli deal and Argentine exports to Israel had not been reported in the Official Bulletin.

  • August 26, 1964

    Letter from R. C. Treweeks, Defense Intelligence Staff, to Alan C. Goodison, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office

    Referring to Goodison and Kellas' correspondence, Treweeks states that evidence shows that the Canadian report concerning an Argentine-Israeli uranium deal was incorrect and that there is little evidence for an Israeli plutonium separation facility.

  • September 02, 1964

    Airgram from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, 'Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium'

    The interim report from the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, filed just past the 1 September deadline, confirms the sale of 100 tons of yellow cake uranium to Israel over the course of a three-year period, beginning 1 January 1963. The uranium was to be used solely for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

  • October 06, 1964

    Letter from D. Arkell, Defense Intelligence Staff, to Alan C. Goodison, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office

    In this letter, which summarizes and agrees with the US assessment of the Argentine-Israeli deal, Arkell asks for Goodison's opinion and whether he knows of any safeguards arrangements between Israel and Argentina.

  • October 08, 1964

    Report, Canadian Defence Research Board, 'Possible Israeli Military Nuclear Program'

    After analyzing photographs taken of the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona, J. Koop, a career intelligence analyst at Canada's Defence Research Board, concluded in March 1964 that Dimona had all of the "prerequisites for commencing a modest nuclear weapons development project." When the Dimona reactor went critical, it could produce enough plutonium for at least one implosion device by the end of 1965 and increase its operating level to produce one to two per year by 1966. Arthur Kellas, a British diplomat in Israel, wrote in his forwarding letter that they were highly impressed by the analysis.

  • October 09, 1964

    Airgram CA-3992 from the Department of State to the US Embassy in Argentina, 'Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium'

    Responding to the report from the US Embassy in Argentina, the State Department asked it to obtain as much information as possible on the end-use of uranium sold to Israel, and in particular on the issue of safeguards.

  • October 19, 1964

    Cable 555 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State

    Meeting with embassy officials, the chief of the National Atomic Energy Commission Admiral Oscar A. Quihillalt informed them that Argentine uranium sales agreements had only general safeguard provisions stipulating that the uranium would be used peacefully, and did not require reports, inspections, or any other independent verification that were loosely equivalent to Article XIII of the IAEA statute.

  • October 21, 1964

    National Intelligence Estimate NIE 4-2-64, 'Prospects for a Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Over the Next Decade'

    This US analysis of the likelihood of nuclear proliferation during the next decade was finished only days after the first Chinese nuclear test on 16 October. The report analyses the implications of this test, as well as programs in India, Israel, Sweden, West Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, and others. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) argued that India was the only new state likely to develop nuclear weapons, concluding that “there will not be a widespread proliferation …over the next decade.”

  • October 23, 1964

    Cable 578 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State

    In a meeting with Foreign Office officials, a US embassy officer stated that the US did not object to the sale of uranium to Israel, but sought cooperation in order to assure that appropriate safeguards were put into place.

  • October 27, 1964

    Cable 591 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State

    When embassy officers provided the aide-memoir and the paper on IAEA safeguards to Admiral Quihillalt, the chief of the National Atomic Energy Commission, he was more receptive to the US position than previously and was glad to know that the US was not in touch with the Israelis about the sale.

  • November 25, 1964

    Cable 549 from the Department of State to the US Embassies in Argentina, Austria, and Israel

    This cable from the US Department of State expresses concern that the Foreign Office was slow to respond to questions about the Argentine-Israeli deal, particularly with regards to safeguards, and says that the Dept. of State, ACDA, and the AEC were considering more "representations" to Argentina and possibly to Israel.

  • November 30, 1964

    Cable 749 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, 'Sale of Uranium to Israel'

    Although the Embassy noted that the Foreign Office's apparent support of safeguards did not necessarily represent the Argentine government's thinking, it concluded that more Argentine dialogue should be allowed before Washington took further representation.

  • December 08, 1964

    Letter from R. C. Treweeks, Defense Intelligence Staff, to Alan C. Goodison, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office

    In his letter to Goodison, Treweeks declares that the Defense Intelligence Staff agreed with J. Koop's conclusion that Dimona was capable of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Goodison's previous letter to Treweeks is attached.

  • December 22, 1964

    Letter from Alan C. Goodison, Eastern Department of the Foreign Office, to A. R. H. Kellas, British Embassy in Tel Aviv

    After consulting the Defense Intelligence Staff, Goodison writes to Kellas that "we must now accept the end of 1968 as the earliest possible date" for an Israeli nuclear bomb. As the Canadian report suggested an Israeli test by 1966, either 1968 was a typo or the Defense Intelligence Staff provided more detailed comments than are available in the file.

  • February 02, 1965

    Cable 729 from the Department of State to the US Embassy in Argentina

    In this cable, the US Department of State requested the Embassy to remind the Argentine government that it was still awaiting a response on the uranium sale to Israel, and asked the Embassy to review the "full extent" of Argentine exports of uranium.

  • February 03, 1965

    Airgram A-691 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, 'Argentine Sale of Uranium Oxide to Israel'

    This airgram details a meeting with Admiral Quihillalt, director of the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentinia, who notes that since the deal with Israel had been concluded before the IAEA established protocols for safeguard measures, the Argentine government did not feel the need to include reporting and inspection requirements. However, safeguards would be placed on future sales. Attached is a note from the Argentine Foreign Ministry, with an unofficial translation.

  • March 23, 1965

    Cable 131 from the Department of State to the US Embassy in Gabon

    The Department of State requested more information in response to intelligence that the Compagnie des Mines d'Uranium de Franceville in Gabon had requested permission to ship uranium ore to Israel.