Avner Cohen, the world’s leading scholar of the Israeli nuclear programme, told me that in the first 20-25 years the processes used to protect workers were primitive and sloppy. Mistakes were common, often not intentionally, but because relatively little was known about the proper handling of radioactive materials. In some cases, documentation was fabricated.
This is the subject of Orna Ben Dor’s riveting two-part documentary, The Dark Secret of the Dimona Reactor (Part 1 and Part 2, both in Hebrew), produced for Israeli TV. Workers there call the nuclear plant “Little Hiroshima,” alluding not only to the destructive power of what’s produced there, but the tragic impact that the reactor has on those who work within it.
The documentary, while it exposes many secrets and crimes of the state against its workers, is also unintentionally maddening because it deals with a subject that the nation deems justifiably opaque. For that reason, no one in the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, which runs Dimona, will speak on the record to the cameras. No journalist is allowed within the facility. Few if any records are made public regarding the functioning of the reactor.
According to Ben Dor, the medical oversight of workers was a sham. They were given tests that were never processed and told they had a clean bill of health, only to find out months or years later they were dying of cancer. The few records that are accessible happen only because of lawsuits that pry them loose from the fingers of the state.
The real story of the film is the extraordinary lengths to which the state will go to shield itself and its nuclear project from public awareness. Following on from this is the nation’s willingness to treat those scientists, engineers and researchers who devoted their lives to this sacred project as refuse to be discarded once they get sick and die, no longer providing any useful service. There is a schizophrenic nature both to the documentary and the victims portrayed. On the one hand, they are patriots who understand the danger posed and accept it for the sake of protecting the state from its enemies. But on the other, they are human beings who demand that the country treat those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with dignity.
Treated as garbage
Dimona: Israel’s ‘Little Hiroshima’, Middle East Eye Richard Silverstein Tuesday 19 May 2015
.…..The secrecy of the nuclear programme, one interviewee calls it a “KGB state,” goes hand in hand with the Israel’s overall opacity around all manner of security issues. It’s not surprising that Israel has put its fate in the hands of a few nuclear bureaucrats like those who run Dimona, because it runs its overall military apparatus in the same way. No civilian oversight to speak of. The generals get what they want. All in the name of protecting the state. It’s a devil’s bargain.
Ben Gurion could have chosen a different path. He could’ve followed the path Shimon Peres advocated to deter the 1973 war: he urged a public nuclear test to warn the Arab states what they confronted if they attacked. In the longer term, such transparency might’ve gone a long way to ameliorate some of the worst offenses of the nuclear security state. But Ben Gurion believed the quieter Israel was about it, the less opposition he might face from the world, especially the US.
He made a choice to create a nuclear arsenal in order to offer the state a mechanism to guarantee survival in the face of imminent defeat. But now Israel has ensured its existence. There is no existential threat (no matter what Bibi says regarding Iran). Nuclear weapons don’t guarantee security. In fact, many serious analysts argue just the opposite.
Israel may eventually realise nuclear weapons are an albatross around its neck. They were never needed in the course of all Israel’s previous wars and likely will never be needed (especially if it would agree to a regional nuclear-free zone – a prospect that is an anathema to it, so far). Yet despite the utter lack of utility of Israel’s WMDs, its nuclear personnel have paid a huge and terrible price.
US pushes Israel for progress on nuclear-free zone, Y Net News
State Department officials speak with Israeli counterparts on efforts to ensure Mid-East remains nuclear nuetral.Itamar Eichner, Associated Press 05.21.15, 20:18 / Israel News
|05.21.15, 20:18 / Israel NewsThe United States has sent a top official to Israel in an effort to revive talks on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, a central issue of a nuclear treaty review conference that some fear will end Friday without progress on global disarmament. The State Department confirmed that the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation was in Israel to discuss the issue. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment on Thomas Countryman’s visit, saying it was a “very sensitive” matter.
Ynet was informed that conversation lasted until 3a.m.
Establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in one of the world’s most tense regions is a rare point of agreement between the United States and Russia these days. Frustrated by the delay of a conference on the zone that was supposed to take place three years ago, Russia has proposed that UN-led talks be held no later than March 2016.
Secretary of State John Kerry this month called the proposed zone an “ambitious goal and fraught with challenges” but worth pursuing. The pressure comes as the president of the review conference, Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, on Wednesday pleaded with countries to close the “still wide” gaps on major issues under disarmament and non-proliferation…….
Israel is not a party to the treaty but showed up this year as a surprise observer…..
Iran, a party to the treaty and engaged in talks with world powers on its own nuclear program, this month spoke on behalf of more than 100 mostly developing countries in calling for Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, calling them a regional threat.
Israel has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program.http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4660237,00.html
Iran’s claim that Israel has 400 nuclear weapons, WP By Glenn Kessler May 1 “It’s laughable that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has become everybody’s nonproliferation guru. He is sitting on 400 nuclear warheads, nuclear warheads that have been acquired in violation of the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].”–Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking in New York, April 29, 2015
In the debate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the unacknowledged nuclear stockpile of Israel often comes up.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel secretly acquired the technology and material to build nuclear weapons, frequently misleading the U.S. government about its intentions. (France was Israel’s partner in the building of the Dimona reactor in the Negev desert, while South Africa is believed by some to have assisted Israel in conducting at least one nuclear test in the 1970s.)
Zarif quickly noted that Israel (unlike Iran) is not a member of the NPT, but added: “Those who provided them with the technology were members of the NPT and violated the NPT to provide them with the technology, and we know who they were. And now they are the proponents of nonproliferation.” (Actually, France’s cooperation with Israel ended in 1966, before the NPT went into effect in 1970.)
Zarif’s estimate of Israel’s stockpile seemed rather large. Does Israel really have 400 nuclear weapons?
The Facts For a secret and unacknowledged program, the history of Israel’s quest for nuclear weapons is relatively well-documented. Our colleague Walter Pincus recently recounted how Israel misled the Kennedy and Johnson administrations about the facility in the Negev, describing it at one point as “a textile plant” and later as “a metallurgical research installation.”
Requested inspections by U.S. experts were cursory and often postponed — Israel refused to accept visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency – and later it was learned that the Israelis had built fake walls around the elevators that led to an underground reprocessing plant, according to a 2014 account in The Guardian newspaper.
By 1968, the CIA was convinced Israel had nuclear weapons – just as negotiations on the NPT were completed and the treaty designed to thwart the spread of nuclear weapons was opened for signature by members of the United Nations. U.S. officials concluded it was too late to turn back the clock and make Israel abandon its nuclear capability………….
Given that some 50 years have passed, how many nuclear weapons does Israel have?
Since Israel has never officially admitted having weapons, the answer relies on a bit of guesswork, principally how much plutonium might have been produced in Dimona. A key factor is the power level of the reactor, which (according to satellite imagery) does not appear to have increased much over time.
A leaked 1999 intelligence assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency, published in Rowan Scarborough’s 2004 book “Rumsfeld’s War,” estimated that Israel had 60 to 80 weapons at the time, and would have 65 to 85 by 2020. (The report also said Iran would have 10 to 20 nukes by 2020.)……..
In 2014, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists echoed that estimate. “We conclude that many of the public claims about the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are exaggerated,” a comprehensive report declared. “We estimate that Israel has a stockpile of approximately 80 nuclear warheads for delivery by two dozen missiles, a couple of squadrons of aircraft, and perhaps a small number of sea-launched cruise missiles.”
Other analysts believe that the number is closer to 100, and possibly a bit higher. In 2007, the Federation of American Scientists said the estimates range from 70 to 400 warheads………http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/05/01/irans-claim-that-israel-has-400-nuclear-weapons/
How Israel Hid Its Secret Nuclear Weapons Program, Politico, An exclusive look inside newly declassified documents shows how Israel blocked U.S. efforts to uncover its secret nuclear reactor. By AVNER COHEN and WILLIAM BURR April 15, 2015 For decades, the world has known that the massive Israeli facility near Dimona, in the Negev Desert, was the key to its secret nuclear project. Yet, for decades, the world—and Israel—knew that Israel had once misleadingly referred to it as a “textile factory.” Until now, though, we’ve never known how that myth began—and how quickly the United States saw through it. The answers, as it turns out, are part of a fascinating tale that played out in the closing weeks of the Eisenhower administration—a story that begins with the father of Secretary of State John Kerry and a familiar charge that the U.S. intelligence community failed to “connect the dots……..
The Israeli Decision and Lapses in U.S. Intelligence
The Americans were truly surprised by the audacity of the Israeli nuclear project. Soon after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion came to power in 1955, he launched a secret initiative to determine whether, and how, Israel could build a nuclear infrastructure to support a national program aimed at producing nuclear explosives. A senior defense official named Shimon Peres took charge of the project. Within three years, he did the almost impossible—transforming the idea of a national nuclear program from a vague vision into a real technological achievement. Unlike the chairman of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, professor David Ernst Bergmann, who preached self-reliance, Peres believed that Israel must not and could not reinvent the wheel—it had to focus on finding a foreign supplier who could provide the most comprehensive nuclear package possible suited for a weapons-oriented program……..
Dimona is the story of a huge secret. Secrecy was essential to shield and insulate the highly vulnerable, newly born project from hostile outsiders. At the very core, of course, it was an Israeli secret—the largest, most awesome and longest-held secret that Israel has ever generated. But it was more than just an Israeli secret; Israel’s partners France and Norway also wanted secrecy. ………..
The dilemma the Eisenhower administration faced after the discovery of Dimona in December 1960-January 1961 would endure for the entire decade. From then on, three successive U.S. administrations—under presidents Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon—would have to deal with it as well. Kennedy chose the toughest path of struggle and confrontation in his effort to check the program; Johnson realized that the U.S. had limited leverage on the issue and planted the seeds of compromise and looked the other way; finally, in a bargain with Prime Minister Golda Meir, Nixon accepted the Israel’s de facto nuclear status as long as it stayed secret—a controversial and unacknowledged deal that remains in place effectively through the current day.
Avner Cohen is a professor of nonproliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the author of Israel and the Bomb.
William Burr is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, George Washington University, where he directs the Archive’s Nuclear Documentation Project and edits its special Web page, The Nuclear Vault. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/israel-nuclear-weapons-117014.html#.VTAlHtyUcnl
Israel installs solar panels at parliament to save energy http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/29/israel-installs-solar-panels-at-parliament-to/ By Associated Press8:51 A.M.MARCH 29, 2015 JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has installed solar panels on the roof of its parliament building, creating what it calls the largest solar field of any national assembly in the world.
The office of the parliament speaker says energy generated from some 1,500 solar panels will provide 10 percent of the electricity used at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The Knesset is also advancing other energy-saving projects, like installing energy-saving lights, automatically shutting down lawmakers’ computers at the end of each workday, and using air conditioning systems to help irrigate the gardens surrounding the building.
The statement says the measures will reduce the Knesset’s energy use by a third.
Scientists will also conduct ecological research on the parliament roof.
The Knesset unveiled the solar field in a dedication ceremony Sunday.
According to the Haaretz news website, the Israeli prime minister claimed there was an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis, linking the venue for the nuclear talks with Iranian backing for Houthi rebels in Yemen, and said the deal posed a threat to humanity that must be stopped…….
Netanyahu made his remarks as negotiations in Lausanne approached the 31 March deadline for an understanding on the framework for a deal, and took on a new intensity. The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, arrived at the Swiss lakeside town on Sunday evening to join the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and foreign ministers from Iran, France, Germany and China, as well as the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini………
A possible solution is for the foreign ministers to make a joint declaration in Lausanne or in nearby Geneva, to be followed by the publication of an informal “factsheet” of agreed points, that could be officially deniable in Tehran. A former state department official said it could take several days to draft this, so experts could stay behind after the foreign ministers leave, to work on the document before Congress reconvenes in mid-April.
However, a European official at the talks said they were still mired in issues of substance, and had yet to tackle differences over presentation.
“We will remain at the negotiation table for however long it takes to get a good deal,” the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi. He added: “All the sides are strongly motivated to reach a compromise.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/29/binyamin-netanyahu-denounces-iran-nuclear-negotiations
ISRAELI NUCLEAR WAR ON GAZA using Depleted Uranium weapons from USA NUCLEAR WAR ON THE WORLD, Beautiful Bloodless Revolution, by aRLeon, 25 Mar 15 Israel over the last 6 years during the 3 Gaza invasions of 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014 has dumped a huge amount of Depleted Uranium (DU) on the Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip. The 50 day 2014 operation dispersed the largest amount of DU by way of bunker buster bombs and other undisclosed DU armaments, such as DIME mini bomb-lets etc.
this surely is a nuclear war being used to genocide people worldwide by way of death by genetic alteration that is premeditated, deliberate and traceable to very many politicians, Generals , Bankers, and Philosophers.
The war is against all humanity as it destroys the Earths natural system that creates, supports, and sustains all biological life here on our only home , Earth……http://beautifulbloodlessrevolution.blogspot.com.au/
Early last month the Department of Defense released a secret report done in 1987 by the Pentagon-funded Institute for Defense Analysis that essentially confirms the existence of Israel’s nukes. DOD was responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Grant Smith, an investigative reporter and author who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy. Smith said he thinks this is the first time the US government has ever provided official recognition of the long-standing reality.
It’s not exactly news. Policy elites and every president from LBJ to Obama have known that Israel has the bomb. But American authorities have cooperated in the secrecy and prohibited federal employees from sharing the truth with the people. When the White House reporter Helen Thomas asked the question of Barack Obama back in 2009, the president ducked. “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate,” Obama said. That was an awkward fib. Obama certainly knows better, and so do nearly two-thirds of the American people, according to opinion polls.
In my previous blog, “What about Israel’s Nuclear Bomb?” I observed that the news media focused solely on Iran’s nuclear ambitions but generally failed to note that Israel already had nukes. That produced a tip about the Pentagon release in early February.
Yet the confirmation of this poorly kept secret opens a troublesome can of worms for both the US government and our closest ally in the Middle East. Official acknowledgement poses questions and contradictions that cry out for closer inspection. For many years, the United States collaborated with Israel’s development of critical technology needed for advanced armaments. Yet Washington pushed other nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires international inspections to discourage the spread of nuclear arms. Israel has never signed the NPT and therefore does not have to submit to inspections.
Washington knew all along what the inspectors would find in Israel. Furthermore, as far back as the 1960s, the US Foreign Assistance Act was amended by concerned senators to prohibit any foreign aid for countries developing their own nukes. Smith asserts that the exception made for Israel was a violation of the US law but it was shrouded by the official secrecy. Since Israel is a major recipient of US aid, American presidents had good reason not to reveal the truth.
The newly released report—“Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”—describes Israel’s nuclear infrastructure in broad terms, but the dimensions are awesome. Israel’s nuclear research labs, the IDA researchers reported, “are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.” Indeed, the investigators observed that Israel’s facilities are “an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories.”……..http://www.thenation.com/blog/202129/its-official-pentagon-finally-admitted-israel-has-nuclear-weapons-too#
After Bibi Netanyahu’s provocative speech to Congress, The New York Times provided helpful clarifications in an article headlined “What Iran Won’t Say About the Bomb.” Written by two superbly expert reporters, William Broad and David Sanger, the piece walked through the technical complexities for non-experts (myself included) and explained key questions Iranians have failed to answer.
But this leads me to ask a different question: What about Israel’s bomb? Why isn’t that also part of the discussion?
In the flood of news stories about Iran’s nuclear intentions, I have yet to see mention of Israel’s nuclear arsenal (if I missed some mentions, they must have been rare).
Yet Israel’s bomb is obviously relevant to the controversy. The facts are deliberately murky, but Israel has had nuclear weapons for at least forty years, though it has never officially acknowledged their existence. The Israeli diplomatic approach has been called “nuclear ambiguity.”……
My point is, the existence of Israel’s nuclear superiority is clearly a pivotal fact of life in the chaotic conflicts and occasional wars of the Middle East. It should not be left out.
Israel’s bomb might be an important factor in motivating Iran to seek a nuclear bomb of its own (though Iran denies that intention). It might also be the subtext for Netanyahu’s bellicose warnings and his occasional calls for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Bibi’s country would lose valuable leverage if it no longer had a nuclear monopoly in the region. Yet it might be considered a provocative act if Israel bluntly acknowledged its nuclear arsenal………
That brings the story back around to Bibi. For roughly twenty years, Netanyahu has now and then called for bombing Iran to crumple its nuclear intentions. The Obama administration is attempting to accomplish the same result peacefully, through negotiations.
As Juan Cole has written in The Nation, that may be a false choice, because Israeli intelligence and a former defense minister have admitted that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Cole explained: “Nuclear weapons are in any case defensive, not offensive, and Iran could not deploy a bomb (if it had one, which it doesn’t) against Israel because the Israelis would retaliate by wiping Iran off the map,”
In other words, even if Tehran were to acquire nukes, it could not use them against Israel. Both nations would become prisoners of the stalemate that ruled the United States and Soviet Union for forty years during the Cold War. The doctrine was known as Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD for short………http://www.thenation.com/blog/201369/what-about-israels-nuclear-bomb#
What Netanyahu left out of his speech to Congress http://warincontext.org/ 03/06/2015
Gary Sick lists five significant omissions: 1. Iran has dramatically reduced its stockpile of enriched uranium. Remember Bibi’s cartoon bomb that was going to go off last summer? Well, it has been drained of fuel, and that will probably continue to be true indefinitely. No mention.
2. Inspections will continue long after the nominal 10-year point, contrary to his claim that everything expires in ten years. No mention.
3. The heavy water reactor at Arak will be permanently modified, so it produces near zero plutonium. Not only did he not mention it, but he listed the reactor and plutonium as one of his threats.
4. His repeated assertion that Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons ignores the judgment “with high confidence” of both American and Israeli intelligence that Iran has taken no decision to build nuclear weapons. It also contradicts the repeated findings of the IAEA that no materials have been diverted for military purposes.
5. All the major countries of the world are co-negotiators with the United States, so a U.S. congressional intervention that killed the deal will not only affect us but all of our major allies. If we stiff them, there is no reason to believe the international sanctions will hold for long. No mention.
U.S. deserves ‘benefit of the doubt’ on getting Iran nuclear deal, Kerry says BY WILL DUNHAM AND DIANE BARTZ WASHINGTON Sun Mar 1, 2015 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed the case on Sunday for completing nuclear diplomacy with Iran despite Israeli opposition, saying the United States deserves the benefit of the doubt on getting a deal that would prevent any need for military action to curb Tehran’s atomic ambitions.
Two days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to address the U.S. Congress to warn against an Iran deal, Kerry delivered a stout defense of talks that are entering a critical phase with a key March 31 deadline looming.
Kerry said he hoped Netanyahu’s speech does not turn into “some great political football” but said the Israeli leader is “welcome to speak in the United States, obviously.”
Six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – are negotiating with Iran toward an agreement to restrain Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions. Netanyahu has spoken scathingly about a possible deal and says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Netanyahu was invited to speak by Republican congressional leaders, but they did not inform President Barack Obama’s administration about the speech in advance. Signs are growing that the speech could damage Israel’s country’s broad alliance with the United States.
In an interview with the ABC program “This Week,” Kerry said of the Iran negotiations: “It is better to do this by diplomacy than to have to do a strategy militarily which you would have to repeat over and over again and which everybody believes ought to be after you have exhausted all the diplomatic remedies.”
Kerry said he could not promise that a deal can be reached, but said that “we are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created.”…..http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/01/us-usa-israel-kerry-idUSKBN0LX1HJ20150301
Iran’s Zarif says Netanyahu trying to undermine nuclear talks DUBAI Sun Mar 1, 2015 (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign minister has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to undermine Iran’s negotiations towards a nuclear deal with world powers in order to distract from the Palestinian question.
Netanyahu is due to speak against a potential nuclear deal between Iran and the United States before U.S. Congress on Tuesday. His planned appearance, on invitation from the Republicans, has angered U.S. officials for its partisan nature and is likely to worsen his already frosty relations with President Barack Obama as well as undermine the wider U.S.-Israel alliance…….http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/01/us-iran-nuclear-zarif-idUSKBN0LX1IJ20150301
A new joint report produced on Monday by Al-Jazeera and the Guardian shows top secret files – correspondances with the South African intelligence services – suggesting that Mossad, the Israeli security agency, has believed since 2012 that the Islamic Republic of Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” according to the leak.
The revelation would seem to undermine claims by other branches of the Israeli state – including the prime minister – that Iran presented a threat to Israelis through its desire to produce nuclear weapons.
The date of the cables is particularly ironic, as it came just a month after a speech made by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in which he called for a united global response to Iran’s threat to develop nuclear weapons – a threat which, at the time, he assured was a very real one…………http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/intelligence-leaks-suggest-israeli-secret-service-believe-iran-not-producing-nuclear-weapons
Iran nuclear talks: US accuses Israel of ‘leaks’ The US has accused Israel of selectively leaking information from the Iran nuclear talks to misrepresent its position in the negotiations. BBC News, 19 Feb 15
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Israel was “cherry-picking” information and using it out of context.
Six world powers want Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Negotiations with Iran are due to begin again on Friday.
Iranian officials said that US Secretary of State John Kerry will also be travelling to Geneva this weekend for two days of talks with Iran’s foreign minister.
On Wednesday, Mr Earnest that the US was mindful of keeping negotiations private because of selective leaks on the part of Israel.
“There’s no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterising our negotiating position have not been accurate,” he said.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed that there was a “selective sharing” of information.
“I think it’s safe to say that not everything you’re hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate reflection of the details of the talks,” she said.
Unnamed US officials told The Associated Press news agency that politically motivated leaks from Israeli officials had made it impossible for the US to continue to share all details of the talks. The accusations come less than two weeks before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to address a joint session of the US Congress on the threat from Iran.
There has been increasingly strained ties between the US and Israel over the nuclear deal with Iran……..http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31538531
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