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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • April 09, 1962

    William C. Hamilton to Robert C. Strong, 'Reply to U.K. Paper on Safeguards'

    State Department reply to British officials regarding controls over Israel's nuclear program.

  • June 22, 1962

    Robert C. Strong to Phillips Talbot, 'Another Visit to Israel’s Dimona Reactor'

    Unable to arrange visits from a "neutral" country, the State Department proposes another US visit to Dimona.

  • June 22, 1962

    Department of State Memorandum of Conversation, 'A Second Visit by U.S. Scientists to Israel’s Dimona Reactor'

    Ambassador Harman responds favorably to the suggestion of another US visit to Dimona.

  • July 11, 1962

    State Department Telegram 233 to US Embassy Egypt

    UAR officials express concern regarding the Israeli nuclear program.

  • September 14, 1962

    Department of State Memorandum of Conversation, 'Proposed Visit of U.S. Scientists to the Dimona Reactor'

    Delay in response to US request for a second visit to Dimona.

  • September 18, 1962

    William Brubeck, Executive Secretary, to McGeorge Bundy, 'Second Visit by U.S. Scientists to the Dimona Reactor'

    Memorandum summarizing response to US requests for a second visit to Dimona.

  • October 22, 1962

    State Department Telegram 451 to US Embassy Egypt

    State Department reports that a second US visit to Dimona reaffirmed previous view that there was no evidence of preparations for nuclear weapons production.

  • October 23, 1962

    Department of State Memorandum of Conversation, 'Second U.S. Visit to Dimona Reactor'

    Results of second US visit to Dimona discussed.

  • December 27, 1962

    Rodger P. Davies to Phillips Talbot, 'Second Inspection of Israel's Dimona Reactor'

    Summary of second US inspection of Dimona. Although inspectors "were taken to Dimona without advance notification, [and] they had spent only a short time there," they felt that "the visit was satisfacotry in that the AEC technicians could confirm that the reactor is not a power reactor but rather a large research reactor.

  • March 18, 1964

    Memorandum, Executive Secretary Benjamin Read, US Department of State, 'Israel's Assurances Concerning Use of Atomic Energy'

    This memorandum from Executive Secretary Benjamin Read of the Department of State to National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy provides a valuable chronology of the US discovery of the nuclear reactor project at Dimona and the pledges made by the Israelis in response to requests from the United States. Included in the chronology is an item about a meeting on 25 May 1963 where senior French diplomat Charles Lucet told CIA director John McCone that even though the French had helped build the Dimona reactor, “there might be a nuclear complex not known the French.” Lucet further stated that the Israelis had tried to purchase “safeguard-free” uranium from Gabon but that the French government stopped the sale through preemptive purchases.

  • June 11, 1964

    Letter from Peter Ramsbotham, British Embassy in Paris, to William 'Willie' Morris, Foreign Office

    This letter describes a meeting between Peter Ramsbotham, chief of the chancery at the British Embassy in France, and George Soutou, a senior official at the French Foreign Ministry. Soutou acknowledged that the French believed that the Israelis were attempting to "put themselves in a position to make a nuclear bomb if they wanted to." The French-Israeli agreement did not include a condition that prevented the use of non-French uranium for Dimona, and Ramsbotham wondered whether the French should be told about the Argentine-Israeli secret deal. Minutes of a conversation with Arkell of the Defense Intelligence Staff are attached.

  • 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.

  • June 15, 1993

    Interview with Bertrand Goldschmidt by Avner Cohen

    Transcript of Avner Cohen's 1993 interview with Dr. Bertrand Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt was a leading French nuclear scientist who helped develop the PUREX plutonium extraction technique. In this interview, Goldschmidt explains the background of the French role in constructing the Dimona nuclear facility.

  • June 17, 1993

    Interview with André Finkelstein by Avner Cohen

    Transcript of Avner Cohen's 1993 interview with André Finkelstein. Finkelstein, deputy director of the IAEA and a ranking official within the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), discusses Franco-Israeli nuclear technology exchange and collaboration in this 1993 interview.

  • January 20, 1994

    Phone Interview with Edwin Kintner by Avner Cohen and Marvin Miller

    Transcript of a phone interview with Edwin Kintner by Avner Cohen and Marvin Miller. Edwin Kintner (1920-2010) was a distinguished nuclear engineer and senior staff member of the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) through the 1960s and 70s who participated in at least two US inspection teams sent to the Dimona nuclear facility. Kintner recounts how thoroughly he and his partners searched the Dimona site for evidence of plutonium reprocessing activities and expresses shock upon learning that he and his team had been fooled all along.

  • 2019

    Elie Geisler, 'The Israeli Nuclear Drama of May 1967: A Personal Testimony'

    Elie Geisler received training as a radiation-safety officer while serving as a solider at Dimona from 1964 to 1966. As the crisis escalated in late May 1967, Geisler was summoned to meet the head of the Minhal Madaii—the secret scientific administration in charge of the nuclear project—who gave him a special assignment: guarding a radioactive “package” to be placed under heavy security. The following testimony was relayed to Avner Cohen through several interviews and follow-up conversations and email exchanges.