A textile factory with a differenceOne of the world’s oldest nuclear plants helped build the Jewish state’s secret nuclear arsenal
WITH its cupola dully glinting in the sun across kilometres of an exclusion zone in the Negev Desert, the nuclear reactor near the Israeli town of Dimona has for decades been the subject of intense speculation. Its bland official name, the Centre for Nuclear Research, belies a martial purpose. Foreign intelligence services, atomic scientists and a former Israeli employee claim that it is the source of fissile material used to make Israel’s nuclear weapons.
The country’s atomic secrets have always been closely guarded, so little is known about the plant at Dimona. However, officials at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) admitted at a scientific conference last month that the reactor is showing its age. An ultrasound inspection of the aluminium core found 1,537 small defects and cracks, they said. The lifetime of such a reactor is usually around 40 years. At 53, Dimona is one of the world’s oldest operating nuclear plants.
The reactor, which was supplied by France, was switched on 15 years after the establishment of the state of Israel. The embattled country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, insisted that Israel needed a nuclear deterrent. The programme was spearheaded by his assistant, Shimon Peres, and the main components were first activated in 1963. The government claimed that Dimona was a “textile plant”.
Many of the ancillary systems in the reactor have been renewed or replaced, but the core itself cannot be swapped out. The flaws that have been detected are closely monitored and there is no serious suggestion that the reactor is unsafe. Yet in most other countries it would have been deactivated long ago. Safety concerns will only increase with time.
Israel has never used its reactors for generating electricity. Along with the United States, France, Russia and China, it is one of the few countries believed to have acquired the nuclear “triad”. It can deliver nuclear weapons as bombs dropped from an aircraft, as warheads on a land-launched missile (since the 1970s) and on missiles fired from submarines.
The third leg of the triad is thought to have been added in 1999, when Israel received the first of six planned submarines. These were built and largely paid for by Germany. If, as reported, they can launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, this would give Israel a “second-strike” capability, allowing it to retaliate even if an enemy were to destroy its air bases and missile silos in a nuclear “first strike”. In January Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “Our submarine fleet will act as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us.”
Dimona’s defenders say it has both symbolic value (as a reminder that Israel will defend itself fiercely) and practical uses, too. It is a source of materials needed to maintain nuclear warheads, such as tritium (which decays, but could theoretically be produced or procured by other means). It is also the centre of a “secret kingdom” of scientists whose capabilities the government is loath to give up.
For nearly six decades, Israel’s policy of “nuclear opacity” has served it well. Its Arab neighbours are convinced it is a nuclear power, but Israel clings to the ambiguous formulation that it “will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region”, neither acknowledging nor denying its capabilities. With powerful neighbours still openly advocating its destruction, the Jewish state will keep its doomsday weapons. But its ageing reactor? Perhaps not.
When he was released from prison in 2004, Israel banned him from speaking with foreigners and leaving Israel, among other restrictions.
According to Sunday’s indictment, Vanunu met two Americans at a hotel in east Jerusalem in 2013, moved apartments without notifying Israeli authorities in 2014, and in 2015 told an Israeli TV anchor information related to his work at the nuclear reactor that he is forbidden from speaking about.
Report finds more than 1,500 defects at aging Israeli nuclear plant April 26, 2016 by JNS.org.A recent examination of Israel’s nuclear reactor site in Dimona has revealed signs of 1,537 defects to the site’s aging aluminum core, according to a study released at a scientific forum held in Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported.
According to the report, the reactor core, which houses the fuel rods where nuclear fission takes place, has absorbed a great deal of heat and radiation over the years, raising questions over its ability to operation.
Israel’s nuclear reactor was supplied by France in the late 1950s and became active in 1963. According to manufacturer standards, the reactors were intended to be operational for only 40 years. …..http://www.jns.org/news-briefs/2016/4/26/report-finds-more-than-1500-defects-at-aging-israeli-nuclear-plant#.VyAwOdR97Gg=
Ex-IAF General: Israel Capable Of Destroying Iran’s Nuclear Program, Breitbart, TEL AVIV 27 Mar 16 – The IDF is capable of destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities with a preemptive strike, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said on Saturday.
“The Israeli Air Force can meet the challenge of destroying Iran’s nuclear reactors if necessary,” Maj Gen (ret.) Amos Yadlin said in a speech reported by Channel 10 news.
Yadlin, who served as an IAF commander as well as the IDF’s military attaché to Washington, stated that if Israel were to find itself at an “intersection where you have to choose between two alternatives: One is whether Iran will have a bomb and we do nothing … and the second is whether to conduct a preemptive action to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon,” then Israel would be capable of destroying the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.
Yadlin also made reference to similar operations in the past that met with success. These include Operation Opera, in which Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, and the destruction of a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007.
He noted that both operations drew sharp criticism of Israel, even though the country never claimed responsibility in the case of Syria……..http://www.breitbart.com/middle-east/2016/03/27/ex-iaf-general-israel-capable-of-destroying-iranian-nuclear-program/
US spying reveals Israeli bids to block Iran nuclear deal, France 24 2015-12-30 The U.S. National Security Agency’s foreign eavesdropping included phone conversations between top Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s campaign against the nuclear deal with Iran, according to the unnamed officials, the Journal said.
NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations, which they learned through Israeli spying
operations, the newspaper reported.
The NSA reports allowed Obama administration officials to peer inside Israeli efforts to turn Congress against the deal, according to the Journal.
Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was described as coaching unnamed Jewish-American groups on lines of argument to use with U.S. lawmakers, and Israeli officials were reported pressing lawmakers to oppose the deal, the newspaper said.
Asked for comment on the Journal report, a White House National Security Council spokesman said: “We do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike.”……. http://www.france24.com/en/20151230-usa-nsa-israel-netanyahu-iran-nuclear
“I do agree a better deal could have been reached,” one that more extensively restricted uranium enrichment, Benny Gantz said Friday of the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal reached in July between Iran and six major powers.
“But I see the half-full part of the glass,” he said. “I see the achievement of keeping the Iranians, 10-15 years into the future, postponing their having a nuclear capability at the right price.”……..Gantz is the latest – and perhaps most significant – retired Israeli security official who has suggested the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has overstated the dangers of the deal…..
The ex-chief of staff hinted that relations with the United States, frazzled this year by open hostility between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, needed repair. The U.S. commitment to maintaining Israeli’s qualitative military edge in the region is “unheard of, it needs to be appreciated.”… . http://www.jta.org/2015/09/27/news-opinion/united-states/former-israeli-military-chief-praises-iran-nuclear-dea
Israeli nuclear whisteblower Vanunu under house arrest over TV interview, DW, 10 Sept 15
More than a decade since completing his 18-year jail-term for exposing details of Israel’s nuclear weapons, Mordechai Vanunu has been put under house arrest. His detention follows a TV interview regarding the disclosure. Army radio reported on Thursday that Vanunu had been arrested in the early hours of September 5, hours after privately owned Channel 2 broadcast an interview which authorities said violated the terms of his 2004 release.
The 60-year-old reportedly appeared in a Jerusalem court before he was confined to his home for seven days. The court also imposed a ban on Vanunu using the Internet.
A senior Israeli security official later confirmed Vanunu’s detention, telling DPA news agency that he was forbidden from sharing any classified information which he learned while working at the Israeli nuclear plant in Dimona, “even if he already published that information in the past.”
Vanunu was first imprisoned in 1986 for exposing details behind Israel’s nuclear weapons plan to British newspaper “The Sunday Times.”
He spent more than 10 years of his sentence in solitary confinement.
In 2010, Vanunu was imprisoned for a second time after a court ruled that he had broken the terms of his release by talking to a foreigner……
Police have demanded to see last week’s interview in its entirety. Channel 2 has refused to hand over the unedited footage, however, on the grounds of the journalistic principle of the protection of sources. The television station is now taking the case to court.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it owns nuclear weapons – the only Middle East country to do so.
It has also refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons – or to allow international surveillance of the Dimona plant in the country’s south east. http://www.dw.com/en/israeli-nuclear-whisteblower-vanunu-under-house-arrest-over-tv-interview/a-18707561
Israel lets Mordechai Vanunu discuss its nuclear program on primetime TV
In a remarkable departure from decades of ‘nuclear ambiguity,’ man convicted of treason for leaking details of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is allowed to warn of the ‘danger’ posed by ‘Dimona powder keg’ TIMES OF ISRAEL, BY DAVID HOROVITZ September 4, 2015 In a remarkable departure from decades of nuclear secrecy, Israel’s military censors permitted nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu to give a lengthy interview to primetime Israeli television on Friday night, in a move that took Israel closer than ever to acknowledging the existence of its nuclear arsenal..
A technician from 1976-85 at Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona, Vanunu revealed overwhelming evidence of Israel’s nuclear program to Britain’s Sunday Times in 1986, including dozens of photographs, enabling nuclear experts to conclude that Israel had produced at least 100 nuclear warheads.
To this day, Israel has never acknowledged that it has a nuclear arsenal, instead maintaining a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” while vowing that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
The timing of the interview Friday appeared particularly telling, as Israel internalizes that its lobbying efforts have likely failed to prevent Congress approving the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “a historic mistake.” Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged to act alone if necessary to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. Two weeks ago, the military censor allowed the broadcast on TV of tape-recorded conversations in which former defense minister Ehud Barak describes at least three occasions in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when Israel ostensibly came close to striking at Iran’s nuclear facilities……..
Israel has repeatedly denied him permission to leave the country, in part because he allegedly still constitutes a security threat, and a further High Court hearing on the issue is expected soon. (In 2007, Vanunu was jailed for an additional six months for violating his release provisions when he was found traveling towards the West Bank city of Bethlehem, away from his home in Jerusalem.)
Vanunu also claimed he was punished more severely because he comes from a poor Moroccan background as opposed to a more privileged European one. But the bottom line, he pleaded, was that, “They should close the Vanunu file.” http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-lets-mordechai-vanunu-detail-its-nuclear-program-on-primetime-tv/
Netanyahu OK with ‘civilian’ Iran nuke program, The Hill, By Mark Hensch, 30 Aug 15, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that he approves of Iran using nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
Netanyahu added that he opposes President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran based only on its military implications.
“Allow me to make clear that Israel is not opposed to a civilian nuclear program in Iran,” he said in Florence, Italy Saturday evening, according to The Jerusalem Post. ……..http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/252286-netanyahu-ok-with-civilian-iran-nuke-program
The Israeli scientist who’s poisoning herself to find a vaccine for nuclear radiation http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/israeli-scientist-invents-vaccine-against-nuclear-radiation–but-is-she-just-poisoning-herself-10462040.html A retired medical professor thinks she has discovered a method for vaccinating against the effects of a nuclear fallout – and has been slowly poisoning herself in a bid to prove it.
Professor Brenda Laster’s theory, so far tested only on herself and mice, is that the body can be taught to react to radiation in the same way that traditional vaccinations can teach it to react to diseases.
Studies from nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown that high doses of radiation cause the body to produce large and ultimately fatal quantities of hydrogen peroxide.
But experts say that less research has been done on lower doses of radiation – if, for instance, a person was an intermediate distance from the fallout itself.
Before Professor Laster retired, she was the director of the radiology lab at the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
And she believes that delivering the body small doses of hydrogen peroxide, over a long period of time, would teach it how to respond in the event of a much larger attack.
Speaking to the Times of Israel, she said she had documented “an immune response” in mice three weeks after they began drinking water laced with hydrogen peroxide.
She is so confident in her theory that she started taking the solution too, up to five drops a day, “the day [we started] giving it to the mice”.
She said: “No one understands this concept. No one makes the connection between radiation viruses and bacteria and so on. People just don’t do it.”
According to the university where she taught, Professor Laster’s laboratory was set up to investigate “the biological effects of exposure to low-dose ionising radiation” in 2010 with a $500,000 donation.
That funding has now run out, however, and Professor Laster needs more money if she is going to get more mice to progress with her research.
But not everyone thinks the avenue of investigation is worthwhile. Dr Zvi Symon, the director of the Sheba Medical Center’s radiation department, told The Times the theory “sounds wild”.
“Exposing people to small amounts of radiation or to free radicals is a wild and actually dangerous, probably, idea,” he said. “I don’t think it has any scientific merit.”
Israel has as many as 100 nuclear warheads and systems to deliver them
But U.S. officials don’t mention them under a 1969 agreement
Iranian nukes would challenge Israel’s unique Middle East position
BY JONATHAN S. LANDAY email@example.com WASHINGTON , 19 Aug 15,
There’s one major issue that President Barack Obama, his supporters and his critics assiduously have avoided as they battle over the deal designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons: Israel’s own nuclear arsenal.
An open secret for decades, the Israeli stockpile is estimated at some 80-100 warheads, though Israel refuses to confirm or deny its existence under a policy of deliberate ambiguity. The arsenal was developed as the ultimate guarantor of the Jewish state’s survival against threats from its hostile neighborhood.
Yet as the sides joust over the Iran deal’s impact on Israel’s security, Obama has been silent on the Israeli arsenal as a potential deterrent against Iranian cheating on the accord. Opponents, led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, haven’t touched the issue, either. And it hasn’t figured in the public hearings that Congress is holding as part of a 60-day review that will culminate in a Republican-led bid to kill the Iran accord next month.
To some experts, the fierce debate over whether the Iran deal endangers Israel or makes it safer will be incomplete and misleading as long as it skirts the Middle East’s only nuclear arms stockpile………http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article31470917.html
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
- climate change
- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
- MIDDLE EAST
- NORTH AMERICA
- SOUTH AMERICA
- Christina's notes
- Christina's themes
- global warming
- RARE EARTHS
- resources – print
- Resources -audiovicual
- World Nuclear