Israel’s Secret Arsenal: It’s Not So Secret Anymore — Strategic Culture

Few Americans are aware of the fact that no U.S. government official, to include congressmen, can in any way mention or discuss Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which is estimated by some observers to consist of as many as 200 tactical nuclear weapons which can be delivered on target by air, land or sea. The prohibition is spelled out in a Department of Energy “classification bulletin” graded Secret, which was issued on September 6, 2012 and bears the file number WPN-136. The subject line reads “Guidance on Release of information Relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability.” It would be interesting to learn exactly how the text of the memo reads, but in spite of repeated attempts to obtain a copy under the Freedom of Information Act, the entire body of the document is completely blacked out.

The bulletin’s first known victim was Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear policy specialist James Doyle who in 2013 wrote a sentence suggesting that Israel had a nuclear arsenal. It appeared in an article entitled “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?” which had been security cleared by Los Alamos and appeared in the journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. An unknown congressional staffer demanded a review and Doyle had his home computer searched before being fired.

Israel, as is so often the case, gets a free pass on what is for others criminal behavior. Its nuclear program was created by stealing American uranium and weapons technology. Preventing nuclear proliferation was in fact a major objective of the U.S. government when in the early 1960s President John F. Kennedy learned that Tel Aviv was developing a nuclear weapon from a CIA report. He told the Israelis to terminate their program or risk losing American political and economic support but was killed before any steps were taken to end the project.

Israel accelerated its nuclear program after the death of President Kennedy. By 1965, it had obtained the raw material for a bomb consisting of U.S. government owned highly enriched weapons grade uranium obtained from a company in Pennsylvania called NUMEC, which was founded in 1956 and owned by Zalman Mordecai Shapiro, head of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Zionist Organization of America. NUMEC was a supplier of enriched uranium for government projects but it was also from the start a front for the Israeli nuclear program, with its chief funder David Lowenthal, a leading Zionist, traveling to Israel at least once a month where he would meet with an old friend Meir Amit, who headed Israeli intelligence. NUMEC covered the shipment of enriched uranium to Israel by claiming the metal was “lost,” losses that totaled nearly six hundred pounds, enough to produce dozens of weapons. Such was the importance of the operation that in 1968 NUMEC even received a private incognito visit from a top Israeli spymaster Rafi Eitan who later ran the spy Jonathan Pollard.

Israel’s Secret Arsenal: It’s Not So Secret Anymore — Strategic Culture