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April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
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Middle Eastern Country Builds Nuclear Weapons

Middle Eastern Country Builds Nuclear Weapons

The above photograph of the construction site near Dimona in the Negev desert for Israel’s then-secret nuclear reactor was taken in 1960. It is difficult to identify precisely who took that photo, but information in a draft U.S. Intelligence Board post-mortem strongly suggests that British and U.S. military attachés took it and similar photos.

It is likely that this is one of the photographs described on pages 13 and 14 of that report. The plainly visible reactor dome undermined Israeli claims that it was a textile factory under construction.

dimona 2

These images of the reactor site, some of them classified secret or confidential, are located in State Department records at the National Archives. (Record Group 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)

This is Alan C. Goodison (1906-2006), trained as an Arabist, worked on Israeli nuclear matters at the British Foreign Office’s Eastern Department in the mid-1960s. He coordinated the analysis and distribution of the sensitive Canadian intelligence report on the Argentine yellowcake sale to Israel. Goodison is shown in 1983 when he became Ambassador to Ireland.

Crown copyright image from collection of Foreign and Commonwealth Office history staff.

Crown copyright image from collection of Foreign and Commonwealth Office history staff.

This is Walworth Barbour (1908-82), U.S. ambassador to Israel 1961-73. He presided over the effort by U.S. diplomats and CIA officers to learn what Israel had done with the yellowcake.

Image from Still Pictures Branch, National Archives, RG 59-SO.

Image from Still Pictures Branch, National Archives, RG 59-SO.

For the full story, check out:

The Israel-Argentina Yellowcake Connection.

Of course, in the end, no one thought Israel was building a nuclear weapon in order to attack or even just intimidate its Arab neighbors. The world understood that Israel had to have the doomsday option because a billion Arabs out there wanted it destroyed. Israel and the U.S., at least officially, believe that Iran’s case is different, because Iran is not a democracy, and because Iran has actually declared numerous time that it wants death to Israel and death to America (still a popular chant in Tehran).

In the end, the West’s chances of actually stopping Iran — not very high. The best they can hope for is a more democratic Iran with nukes that won’t use it to intimidate its neighbors.

I wonder what would happen if Israel suddenly declared that it understands Iran’s fears of its hostile Sunni neighbors, and removes its objections to an Iranian bomb. It’s worth it just to watch the Saudis’ faces go deep red and then, possibly, explode…

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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