Posted by: Lister | January 12, 2008

CIA said Israel had nukes in 1974

From Haaretz:

The Central Intelligence Agency, backed by bodies including the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Defense Intelligence Agency, determined in August 1974 that Israel had nuclear “weapons in being,” a “small number” of which it “produced and stockpiled.”

Israel was also suspected of providing nuclear materials, equipment or technology to Iran, South Africa and other then-friendly countries.

This top secret document, consigned to the CIA’s vaults for almost 32 years, was suddenly released to the public this week, during U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to Israel and on the eve of his trip to the Persian Gulf.

[…] In both the original 1974 document and the 1975 State Department paper (in which it was retyped), the entire intelligence community determined, “Israel already has produced nuclear weapons.” This analysis was based on “Israeli acquisition of large quantities of uranium,” in part covertly; on Israel’s ambiguous efforts to enrich uranium; and on the huge investment in the “Jericho” surface-to-surface missile “designed to accommodate nuclear warheads.” Short of a grave threat to the nation’s existence, Israel was not expected to confirm its suspected capability “by nuclear testing or by threats of use.”

While Israel’s nuclear weapons “cannot be proven beyond a shadow of doubt,” several bodies of information point strongly toward a program stretching back over a number of years, the document states.

[…] On Iran, the 1974 NIE said, “there is no doubt of the Shah’s ambition to make Iran a power to reckon with. If he is alive in the mid-80’s, if Iran has a full-fledged nuclear power industry and all the facilities necessary for nuclear weapons, and if other countries have proceeded with weapons development, we have no doubt that Iran will follow suit.”

The Shah’s ouster in 1979 (and death a year later) apparently slowed down Iran’s nuclear project.

The authors of the NIE wrote that the U.S. helped France expedite its nuclear program, France in turn helped Israel, and much like France and India, Israel, “while unlikely to foster proliferation as a matter of national policy, probably will prove susceptible to the hue of economic and political advantages to be gained from exporting materials, technology and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons programs.”

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