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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)

Popular Documents

November 8, 2019

The VELA Incident: A Statement Written by Dr. Alan Berman

A statement written by Dr. Alan Berman about the 1979 VELA Incident.

May 19, 1979

Letter from Israeli PM Menachem Begin to British PM Margaret Thatcher on Pakistan’s Nuclear Program

Letter from Begin forwarding a memorandum to Thatcher on activities of the Pakistani government to build a nuclear weapon.

April 11, 1969

National Security Study Memorandum [NSSM] No. 40, Memorandum from Henry Kissinger to Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Director of Central Intelligence, 'Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program'

Kissinger initiated a formal bureaucratic process to address how the U.S. government should respond to the emergence of a nuclear Israel, a review process managed by Kissinger’s NSC staff, known as NSSM 40. Through the NSSM Henry Kissinger tasked the DCI, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to prepare a report for the President that included the latest intelligence findings on the Israeli nuclear program and policy options with recommendations that the President could use in making decisions.

November 22, 2019

Leonard Weiss, 'My Involvement with the 1979 Vela Satellite (6911) Event'

Statement made by Leonard Weiss about his memories of the 1979 VELA Incident.

July 18, 1970

Undated, unsigned handwritten note, possibly by Minister without portfolio Israeli Galili discussing the publication of a story on Israel’s nuclear program in the New York Time

Presumably written by by Minister Israel Galili some time in 1970, this note discusses the publication of a story on Israel’s nuclear program in the New York Times. According to the note, the story mentions “the agreement we have with the President,” alluding to the 1969 Richard Nixon-Golda Meir deal on Israel’s nuclear status. The note further attempts to analyze which source within the Nixon administration had approached the paper and leaked assessments on Israel’s nuclear capabilities, underscoring the secrecy and the sensitivity surrounding the 1969 understanding.

Editor's note: Because of the unique provenance of this document, it should be treated as unauthenticated and interpreted skeptically. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the associated essay by Or Rabinowitz.