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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)

  • April 27, 1965

    Airgram A-163 from the Department of State to the US Embassy in Argentina on the Argentine Sale of Uranium Oxide to Israel

    In response to a request for further instructions, the Dept. of State informed the Embassy that Washington was looking to establish a common policy on the mandatory application of IAEA safeguards. Until they were closer to agreement, the Embassy should request that the Argentine government apply safeguards to future deals.

  • June 03, 1965

    Cable 7659 from the Department of State to the US Embassy in the United Kingdom

    In a conversation with one or two State Department officials, a British Embassy officer notes that reports available to both governments estimate Israel's purchases of uranium to add up to 190 tons and proposed a joint US-British approach to Argentina on safeguards.

  • June 08, 1965

    Cable 364 from the US Embassy in Gabon to the Department of State

    According to the Embassy, only President Leon M'ba, the Minister of the National Economy, and his predecessor would know of any diversion of any uranium from Gabon to Israel.

  • August 11, 1965

    Cable 786 from the US Embassy in France to the Department of State

    The US Embassy in France noted that Gabon produced about 440 tons of uranium metal annually, and any diversions would occur under French, rather than Gabonese, authority.

  • August 21, 1965

    Airgram A-160 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, 'EXCON: Argentine Exports of Uranium Oxide'

    A request by an Argentine Congressman gave the yellow cake sale to Israel a public airing.

  • August 24, 1965

    Airgram CA-2198 from the Department of State to US Embassies in Argentina on the Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium

    Owing to discrepancies in available data, the Department of State requested information on the amount of uranium shipped to Israel, any new agreements between Argentina and Israel, any safeguards put into place, and the current status of Argentina's uranium processing plants.

  • October 22, 1965

    Airgram A-350 from the US Embassy in Israel to the Department of State, 'Argentine Uranium'

    The Embassy reported that it had no information on Israeli uranium imports, and the only way to obtain that information would be a high-level inquiry to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

  • November 10, 1965

    Cable 157 from the US Embassy in Gabon to the Department of State

    During a visit to the Nounona uranium mines, Ambassador Bane learned that all processed ore went to France for metal extraction by the Atomic Energy Agency.

  • January 20, 1966

    National Intelligence Estimate, NIE 4-66, 'The Likelihood of Further Nuclear Proliferation'

    This estimate updated an estimate (NIE-4-2-64) published in 1964 of the nuclear proliferation problem. That estimate, like this one, overestimated the likelihood of an Indian bomb, while somewhat underestimating Israel’s program. This assessment followed the same pattern—predicting India would produce a weapon within a “few years” and also putting Israel in the “might” category, although treating it as a “serious contender” nonetheless. Also following a short discussion of the “snowball effect” (later known as “proliferation cascades” or “chains”) suggesting that the United Arab Republic (Egypt-Syria) and Pakistan were likely to take the nuclear option should India or Israel go nuclear.

  • April 10, 1966

    Airgram 763 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, 'Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium'

    Although AEC representative Lester Rogers reported that the Embassy had no new information, this airgram includes tables on Argentina's annual production of uranium from 1958-1965 and the production capacities of two uranium processing plants.

  • May 11, 1966

    Cable 1250 from the Department of State to the US Embassies in Argentina and Israel, 'Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium'

    The Department of State was unable to locate the Argentine uranium sold to Israel and was disturbed by the fact that the amount exceeded Israel's needs for peaceful use.

  • May 26, 1966

    Cable 1776 from the US Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, 'Israeli Purchase of Argentine Uranium'

    The Embassy did not believe it was advisable to inform the Argentine government of US plans to ask the Israeli government about the location of the uranium.

  • June 02, 1966

    Cable 1052 from the Department of State to the US Embassy in Israel

    The Department of State requested that the Embassy inform the Israelis that they were satisfied with the inspection of Dimona, but ask Israel to clarify the location of the uranium ore from Argentina.

  • June 15, 1966

    Cable 1333 from the US Embassy in Israel to the Department of State

    Ambassador Barbour spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Eban, who said he would ask about the location of the Argentine uranium.

  • July 01, 1966

    Cable 7 from the US Embassy in Israel to the Department of State

    Ambassador Barbour reports that Foreign Minister Eban will confer with Deputy Minister of Defense Zvi Dinstein on the location of the Argentine uranium.

  • November 11, 1966

    Airgram A-49 from the US Embassy in Gabon to the Department of State, 'Reported Diversion of Gabonese Uranium to Israel'

    The Embassy reported the Gabonese government's assertation that France was the sole procurer of Gabonese uranium; however, it noted that this statement did not preclude a possible diversion to Israel.

  • February 15, 1969

    Memorandum from Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs [ISA] Paul Warnke to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, 'Stopping the Introduction of Nuclear Weapons Into the Middle East'

    Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Warnke wrote this memo to the Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to alert him to the new reality that Israel may already possess nuclear weapons or was very close to that point. Warnke proposed that Laird “consider another serious, concerted, and sustained effort to push Israel to halt its work on strategic missiles and nuclear weapons.”

  • February 17, 1969

    Telephone Conversation Transcript, Henry Kissinger and William P. Rogers

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty for ratification and its chairman, J. William Fulbright (D-Ark), wanted to know where Israel stood on the Treaty. Believing that the issue should be handled at the White House level, Rogers proposed a meeting with Kissinger, Laird, and CIA director Richard Helms. Agreeing to schedule a meeting, Kissinger acknowledged that the issue was also “political.”

  • February 27, 1969

    Memorandum from Ralph Earle, Office of International Security Affairs to Secretary of Defense Laird, 'Stopping the Introduction of Nuclear Weapons Into the Middle East'

    Ralph Earle, a senior official at the Pentagon’s Office of International Security Affairs [DOD/ISA] who had worked closely with Warnke, sent Laird a memorandum, requesting a meeting with Rogers, Kissinger, and Helms on the Israeli nuclear problem. The paper further restated the recommendation to keep the issue out of the National Security Council process.

  • March 14, 1969

    Memorandum from Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard, 'Computers for Israel'

    This memo from Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard concerns Israeli efforts to acquire high speed computers for use in a weapons program, and recommends that the United States should oppose these efforts.