ISRAELI NUCLEAR BANALITY: how Israel offered to sell South Africa the bomb (When will we put sanctions on Israhell?)

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.

The “top secret” minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa‘s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them “in three sizes”. The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that “the very existence of this agreement” was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of “ambiguity” in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa’s post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky’s request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week’s nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel’s attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a “responsible” power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials “formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal”.

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked “top secret” and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: “In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere.”

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available.” The document then records: “Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.” The “three sizes” are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the “correct payload”, reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong’s memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel’s prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with “special warheads”. Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: “It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement… shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party”.

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. “The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date,” he said. “The South Africans didn’t seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime’s old allies.”

Ref: Guardian

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THE ISRAELI NUCLEAR HISTORY – in bed with european/american colonial aims and hegemony

This annotated chronology is based on the data sources that follow each entry. Public sources often provide conflicting information on classified military programs. In some cases we are unable to resolve these discrepancies, in others we have deliberately refrained from doing so to highlight the potential influence of false or misleading information as it appeared over time. In many cases, we are unable to independently verify claims. Hence in reviewing this chronology, readers should take into account the credibility of the sources employed here.

Inclusion in this chronology does not necessarily indicate that a particular development is of direct or indirect proliferation significance. Some entries provide international or domestic context for technological development and national policymaking. Moreover, some entries may refer to developments with positive consequences for nonproliferation.

Mid 1947
Chairman of the Jewish Agency David Ben Gurion creates a scientific department at the headquarters of Haganah, the semi-official Jewish defense organization, and allocates it a mandatory annual budget of 10,000 pounds.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 11.

1948
Israeli scientist Ernst David Bergmann contends that “by developing atomic energy for peaceful uses, you reach the nuclear option. There are no two atomic energies.”
—’Israel to Honor Atom Scientist,” New York Times, 14 May 1966 as cited in Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 16.

1948
Israeli scientist actively explore the Negev Desert for uranium deposits on orders of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. These efforts reveal low-grade deposits near Sidon and Beersheba.
—Cordesman, Anthony, Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996), 118.

March 1948
The General Staff of Haganah officially recognizes the scientific unit as a staff unit in the operations branch. This unit is responsible for coordinating and assigning tasks to the newly created Ha’il Mada, or Science Corps, commonly know by the Hebrew acronym HEMED.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 11.

April 1948
In a letter to an operative in Europe, Ben Gurion instructs him to recruit Eastern European scientists who can “either increase the capacity to kill masses or cure masses; both things are important.”
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 11.

14 May 1948
Israel declares itself a sovereign state after the British withdraw from Palestine.

Late 1948
Ben Gurion meets with Jewish, Palestinian-born physicist Moshe Sordin, who is working on construction of the first French nuclear reactor.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 25.

1949
The newly created Weizmann Institute of Science actively supports nuclear research by funding the postgraduate education of promising young Israeli scientist abroad. These scientists are intended to become the foundation of a nuclear weapons program.
— Interview with Gur, Shlomo by the author, Tel Aviv, 20 July 1992 as cited in Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 26, Jabber, Faud, Israel and Nuclear Weapons: Present Options and Future Strategies (London: Chatto & Windus, 1971), 17, Harkavy, Robert E., Spectre of a Middle East Holocaust: The Strategic and Diplomatic Implications of the Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program (Denver, CO: University of Denver for Monograph Series in World Affairs, 1977), 5 as cited in Pry, Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 5-6.

1949
The Weizmann Institute establishes a Department of Isotope Research.

—Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 148.

1949
Francis Perrin, a member of the French Atomic Energy Commission and nuclear physicist, visits the Weizerman Institute. He invites Israeli scientists to the new French research facility at Saclay and a joint research effort is subsequently set up between the two states.
—”Former Official Says France Helped Build Israel’s Dimona Complex,” Nucleonics Week, 16 Octover 1986, 6.

Late 1940s and early 1950s
The U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health provide financial support to the Weizmann Institute on defense-related projects.
— Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 177.

15 July 1951
David Ben Gurion appoints Ernst David Bergmann his scientific advisor.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 28.

June 1952

Israel secretly founds its own Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) under the control of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
—Pry, Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 5-6, Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 149.

1953
Israeli scientists perfect the uranium extraction process and develop a new procedure for making heavy water, both essential components of a nuclear weapons program.
—”Israel’s nuclear defense history,” Los Angeles Times, 12 October 2003.

1953
Technical exchanges between the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) and the French Commissariat of Atomic Energy (CEA) begin and a formal agreement on cooperation between France and Israel in nuclear research is drafted.
— Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 149.

1953

In an effort to cultivate a scientific relationship with French officials, Ernst David Bergmann negotiates with CEA officials the sale of two patents (chemical uranium extraction and heavy water production) for possible commercial production. Israel receives 60 million (old) francs for the new technology.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 33.

December 1953
President Dwight Eisenhower launches the Atoms for Peace campaign in an address before the United Nations General Assembly, calling for the establishment of an international uranium stockpile to be controlled and dispensed by a new international atomic energy agency. This program will later lead to the construction of the research reactor at Nachal Soreq.
— Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 154-6.

Late 1953
Two Israeli scientists, Zvi Lipkin and Israel Pelah, are sent to the French Nuclear Research Centers at Saclay and Chatillon to study reactor physics.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 33.

20 January 1954

Israeli Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon makes the decision to move the physics department of Machon 4 to the Weizmann Institute. On 1 May of the same year the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Weizmann Institute is founded, with Amos de Shalit as its head.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 38.

1955 to 1960
Under the auspices of the Atoms for Peace program, 56 Israelis receive training in the United States Atomic Energy Commission research centers at the Argonne National Laboratory and at Oak Ridge.
— Pry, Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 6.

1955 to 1967
Israel spends over $600 million purchasing weapons from France, including $75 million for a nuclear reactor.

— Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 150.

12 July 1955
Under the Atoms for Peace program, Israel and the United States sign a general agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, including an agreement for the sale of a small research reactor. It is to be a light water or “swimming pool” type, 5-megawatt reactor.

— Pry, Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 5, Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 44.

1956
Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion writes that “what Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Teller, the three of them are Jews, made for the United States could also be done by scientist in Israel for their own people.”

—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 12.

11 April 1956
A large IAEC delegation visits the AEC headquarters to discuss Israel’s nuclear plans.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 51.

22 June 1956

Precipitated by a Czech-Egyptian arms deal of the previous year that more than doubles Egypt’s conventional forces, Israel formalizes a comprehensive security understanding with the French government of Guy Mollet in the city of Vermars.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 48-9.

Mid-1956
The IAEC submits the information needed for its request for a $350,000 American grant for a small, pool-type reactor.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 52.

21 September 1956
Israeli Director-General of the Defense Ministry Shimon Peres meets with French Foreign Minister Maurice Bourges-Maunoury, who agrees to provide Israel with a nuclear reactor. The agreement is reached at a secret meeting held outside Paris where they also finalize the specifics of Israel’s role in the Suez Canal operation. Israeli support in the Suez operation is accepted in exchange for French aid to Israel’s nuclear efforts.
—Golan, Matti, Peres (Tel Aviv: Schocken Books, 1982), 54 as cited in Raviv, Dan and Melman, Yossi, Every Spy a Prince: the Complete History of Israel’s Intelligence Community, (Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990), 63-69.

29 October 1956
The Suez operation begins. For the United Kingdom and France, the operation is a failure. Despite Israeli military success, Britton and France cede to a ceasefire in response to pressure from the U.S. and Soviet Union, which issues an implicit threat of nuclear attack if Israel does not withdraw from the Sinai.
—Farr, Warner, The Third Temple’s Holy of Holies: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, September 1999, <http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-cps.htm&gt;.

November 1956
Under the direction of President Guy Mollet, the French government agrees to supply Israel with a twenty-four-thermal-megawatt natural uranium reactor. From this point on, French and Israeli scientists collaborate towards the development of their respective nuclear weapons programs.
—Weissman, Steve and Krosney, Herbert, The Islamic Bomb: the Nuclear Threat to Israel and the Middle East, (New York, New York: Times Books, 1981), 111-112.

1957
Several West German newspapers report that Israelis and Germans are working together on atomic weapons technology.

—Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 35.

1957
The Eisenhower administration inquires about the establishment of a strict security zone and heavy construction occurring at Dimona, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion responds with assurances that the project is a textile plant. Later, the project is called a pumping station.
— Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 151.

Early 1957
The EL-102 reactor that France had agreed to supply to Israel before the Suez operation is upgraded to a large plutonium-processing reactor along the same lines as the French G-1 reactor at Marcoule (40-MW thermal power).
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 58.

20 March 1957
Israel signs a formal agreement with the United State for the construction of a small swimming-pool research reactor at Nachal Soreq as part of the Atoms for Peace program.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 65.

3 October 1957
A formal agreement for the construction of the Dimona nuclear facility is signed by French officials. Shimon Peres assures French Foreign Minister Christian Peneau that the reactor will be used only for “scientific research.”
— Green, Stephen, Taking Sides, America’s Secret Relations with a Militant Israel, (New York: William and Morrow Company, 1984), 150, Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 58-9, Pry, Peter, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1984), 12.

1958
The United States becomes aware of the existence of the Dimona reactor via U-2 spy-plane overflights, but is not identified as a nuclear site.
—Cordesman, Anthony, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 15 April 2003.

Early 1958
Ground is broken for the EL-102 reactor at the Dimona complex.
— Farr, Warner, The Third Temple’s Holy of Holies: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, September 1999, <http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/awc-cps.htm&gt;.

15 April 1958
Ernst David Bergmann denies that French-Israeli cooperation goes beyond exchange of information on uranium chemistry and heavy water.
—Cohen, Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Colombia University Press, 1998), 82.

1959
Norway sells 20 tons of heavy water to Israel for use in an experimental power reactor. Despite the fact that under the conditions of the transaction Norway retains the right to inspect the heavy water for over 30 years, it does so only once, in April 1961, while it is still in storage drums at the Dimona complex.
— Mihollin, Gary, “Heavy Water Cheaters,” Foreign Policy (1987-88), 100-119.

Ref: Nti

ISRAHELL UPDATE: Thank you, Eli Yishai, for exposing the peace process masquerade

Here’s someone new to blame for everything: Eli Yishai. After all, Benjamin Netanyahu wanted it so much, Ehud Barak pressed so hard, Shimon Peres wielded so much influence – and along came the interior minister and ruined everything.

There we were, on the brink of another historic upheaval (almost). Proximity talks with the Palestinians were in the air, peace was knocking on the door, the occupation was nearing its end – and then a Shas rogue, who knows nothing about timing and diplomacy, came and shuffled all the proximity and peace cards.

The scoundrel appeared in the midst of the smile- and hug-fest with the vice president of the United States and disrupted the celebration. Joe Biden’s white-toothed smiles froze abruptly, the great friendship was about to disintegrate, and even the dinner with the prime minister and his wife was almost canceled, along with the entire “peace process.” And all because of Yishai.
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Well, the interior minister does deserve our modest thanks. The move was perfect. The timing, which everyone is complaining about, was brilliant. It was exactly the time to call a spade a spade. As always, we need Yishai (and occasionally Avigdor Lieberman) to expose our true face, without the mask and lies, and play the enfant terrible who shouts that the emperor has no clothes.

For the emperor indeed has no clothes. Thank you, Yishai, for exposing it. Thank you for ripping the disguise off the revelers in the great ongoing peace-process masquerade in which nobody means anything or believes in anything.

What do we want from Yishai? To know when the Jerusalem planning committee convenes? To postpone its meeting by two weeks? What for? Hadn’t the prime minister announced to Israel, the world and the United States, in a move seen at the time as a great Israeli victory, that the construction freeze in the settlements does not include Jerusalem? Then why blame that lowly official, the interior minister, who implemented that policy?

What’s the big deal? Another 1,600 apartments for ultra-Orthodox Jews on occupied, stolen land? Jerusalem won’t ever be divided, Benjamin Netanyahu promised, in another applause-winning move. In that case, why not build in it? The Americans have agreed to all this, so they have no reason to pretend to be insulted.

The interior minister should not apologize for the “distress” he caused, but be proud of it. He is the government’s true face. Who knows, perhaps thanks to him America will finally understand that nothing will happen unless it exerts real pressure on Israel.

What would we do without Yishai? Biden would have left Israel propelled by the momentum of success. Netanyahu would have boasted of a renewed close friendship. A few weeks later, the indirect talks would have started. Europe would have applauded, and Barack Obama, the president of big promises, would even have taken a moment away from dealing with his country’s health-care issues to meet with Netanyahu. George Mitchell, who has already scored quite a few diplomatic feats here, would shuttle between Ramallah and Jerusalem, and maybe Netanyahu would eventually have met with Mahmoud Abbas. Face to face. Then everything would have been sorted out.

Without preconditions, certainly without preconditions, Israel would have continued to build in the territories in the meantime – not 1,600 but 16,000 new apartments. The IDF would have continued arresting, imprisoning, humiliating and starving – all under the auspices of the peace talks, of course. Jerusalem forever. The right of return is out of the question, and so is Hamas. And onward to peace!

Months would go by, the talks would “progress,” there would be lots of photo ops, and every now and then a mini-crisis would erupt – all because of the Palestinians, who want neither peace nor a state. At the very end, there might be another plan with another timetable that no one intends to keep.

Everything was so ready, so ripe, until that scoundrel, Yishai, came and kicked it all into oblivion. It’s a bit embarrassing, but not so terrible. After all, time heals all wounds. The Americans will soon forgive, the Palestinians will have no choice, and once again everyone will stand ceremoniously on the platform and the process will be “jump-started” again – despite everything that the sole enemy of peace around here, Eli Yishai, has done to us.

Ref: Haaretz

FIGHT ISRAHELL: Argentina Protesters to Peres: You Deserve Nobel for Murder

Thousands of people in Buenos Aires protested against Israeli President Shimon Peres’ visit to Argentina on Monday, some of whom carried a banner telling the octogenarian he deserved a Nobel Prize for murder. The banner referred to 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, which Peres won together with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that resulted in the Oslo Accords.

Protestors carried signs displaying dead children and calling Peres a “murderer”, and handed out pamphlets condemning Israel and its leaders. One of the protestors said, “It’s a disgrace that the president of our country is meeting today with child-murderer Shimon Peres. He should be expelled from the city. There are thousands of people who came here today to protest against the hospitality shown to a representative of an occupying and oppressive government.” Signs also displayed pictures of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

One of the signs said: “Get out of Argentina, murderer Shimon Peres”, and another said: “Death to Zionist-fascist Israel, officer of American imperialism in the Middle East, murderers of the Palestinian people!” The demonstrators, who marched toward the Israeli embassy, also carried signs glorifying Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, and Iran’s supreme leader, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, as well as Lebanese flags.

Journalists who were suspected of having Israeli backgrounds were ushered away and threatened with having their cameras broken. The president is currently nowhere near the scene of the protest, but the Israeli delegation fears demonstrators will attempt to infiltrate an event at which he is slated to appear during the evening, hosted by the Indian community.

Security around the president has been bolstered due to threats against him. Protestors in Brazil last week offered Peres a similar welcome, some of whom shouted at him: “War criminal, go home.” During Peres’ visit on Monday, he met with Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, his Argentinean counterpart. Kirchner told Peres in the meeting that she supported Iran’s nuclear program, as long as it was for peaceful purposes.

 

Ref: Al Jazeera