'UK Supplied Israel With Atom Bomb Materials'

Britain, a key player in a nuclear row with Iran, supplied Israel in the 1960s with plutonium and other restricted materials used in developing atomic weapons, a BBC investigation has revealed.

'UK Supplied Israel With Atom Bomb Materials'

Citing top secret documents obtained under freedom of information laws and interviews with former government officials, the BBC's Newsnight program said on Thursday, March 9, that Britain provided the samples as Israel developed its secret Dimona nuclear reactor, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Friday.

In 1966, Israel asked Britain for a 10-milligram sample of plutonium -- a mere fraction of the four kilograms required to make a nuclear bomb, according to the BBC.

Britain also supplied Israel with hundreds of shipments of other materials which could have helped a nuclear weapons program, including compounds of uranium, lithium, beryllium, tritium and heavy water.

In 2003, Israel decided to cut off ties with the BBC over a repeat broadcast of a documentary named "Israel's Secret Weapons", which showed pictures of the Dimona nuclear reactor and the biological institute in Nes Tziona, with the narrator saying, "Which country in the Middle East has not declared the nuclear and biological weapons in its possession?"

PM in the Dark

Benn said that he thought then prime minister Harold Wilson had also been kept in the dark.

Tony Benn, Britain's technology minister at the time, however, told the program that the deals took place without his knowledge even though he had been the man in charge of exporting nuclear material.

"On the question of plutonium for Israel, no reference was ever made to me. I mean the hypocrisy is what sticks in my nostrils," Benn said.

The former minister indicated that he thought then prime minister Harold Wilson had also been kept in the dark.

"My belief is he didn't know, but he might have done I can't rule that out."

The Foreign Office rejected the request, while the Ministry of Defense warned that the sale could have "significant military value" as the smaller amount could be used for experimental purposes, according to the BBC.

But Michael Michaels, a senior civil servant, wrote to protest strongly at the Foreign Office decision and managed to have it overturned.

Michaels, who served as Britain's representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the UN's nuclear watchdog -- for 14 years, was Jewish and considered to be very well-disposed towards Israel, according to the report.

Peter Kelly, British intelligence's top expert on the Israeli nuclear weapons program at the time, told Newsnight he believed Michaels knew Israel was trying to build the bomb but had dual loyalties -- to both Britain and Israel.

"Helpful"

The material helped Israel "to search and to develop their program and to build not only atomic weapons but hydrogen bombs," Vanunu said. 

Upon hearing the revelations, Mordechai Vanunu, who spent 18 years in an Israeli prison for lifting the lid on the Dimona nuclear plant, said he was glad the news about Britain's deals with Israel was coming out.

"It will be very helpful to fight the nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and to force Israel to do something to take part in the abolition of nuclear weapons in the Middle East," he told Newsnight in a telephone interview from Israel.

Vanunu said he hoped the revelations would force Britain to put pressure on Israel to open Dimona for inspection in the same way as London was pressuring Tehran about its disputed nuclear drive.

He also said he thought the material sold by Britain to Israel in the 1960s aided Israel in developing atomic weapons.

The material helped Israel "to search and to develop their program and to build not only atomic weapons but hydrogen bombs," Vanunu said.

Arab leaders and politicians have frequently called for a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, criticizing the West's double standards with Iran as it turns a blind eye to Israel's nuclear arsenal.

The UN nuclear watchdog had asked Israel to give up its secret arsenal of nuclear weapons to head off an arms race in the Middle East.

Israel, India and Pakistan are the only countries with nuclear facilities that have not signed the NPT, which was initiated in 1968 to stop the spread of nuclear weapons through inspections and sanctions.

While the US is pressing Iran over its alleged nuclear arsenal and is accused of having misled and lied to the world over Iraq's alleged WMDs, Israel's nuclear arsenal has grown from an estimated 13 nuclear bombs in 1967 to 400 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, according to US media reports.

The Washington Post has also revealed that Israel has succeeded in modifying US-made cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to be launched from submarines.

Doctors and environment activists have further warned that Israel's infamous Dimona is posing a grave threat to the life of Israeli citizens, those of neighboring countries and the region's fauna and flora.

Vanunu has said that reactor became very old, and unless it shuts down, another "Chernobyl" disaster might occur again in the region, referring to the 1986 explosion of the Russian nuclear reactor.

Source: IslamOnline.net

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
Add Comment