MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – An article co-authored by Avner Cohen of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey has laid bare how Israel blocked U.S. efforts during the Eisenhower Administration to uncover the Jewish state’s secret nuclear reactor.
The ground-breaking story published last week on the website POLITICO makes use of newly declassified documents released on April 15 by the National Security Archive, the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Cohen, a professor of nonproliferation studies and senior fellow at the CNS, co-wrote the news story with William Burr of the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C.
In the story, the authors reveal for the first time how Israel developed the ruse of calling its Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev Desert a “textile factory,” how France and Norway played key roles in the late 1950s in supplying reactor-related materials to Israel, and how U.S. intelligence “lapses” (involving Secretary of State John Kerry’s father) missed Israel’s true intentions.
“The secrecy surrounding Dimona was aimed primarily at the United States,” Cohen and Burr write. “Of all the powers, Washington posed the greatest threat [to halting Israel’s nuclear buildup]. Should the Dimona secret have been compromised, the United States would have likely exercised pressure on France and Israel either to terminate the project altogether or at least to submit it to international safeguards.”
Cohen and Burr’s article on POLITICO has generated more than 8,900 reader’s comments on the site, in addition to 5,800 shares on Facebook and 1,100 tweets on Twitter.
A leading expert on Israel’s nuclear capabilities, Cohen is the author of the book The Worst Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb (Columbia University Press, 2010). Burr is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to expanding public access to government information.