Dr. Avner Cohen, professor of nonproliferation studies at the Monterey Institute and a noted scholar of Israel’s nuclear program, today released several items from his personal research archive that offer fresh new insights into Israel’s decision not to use nuclear weapons during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The key item in this release is a video interview with the late Azarayahu ‘Sini’ Arnan, former senior advisor in the Israeli government, who provides a dramatic eyewitness description of a closed-door ministerial consultation in which Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir overruled Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, halting preparations to ready the country’s nuclear weapons for a possible demonstration during the 1973 War. This interview upends conventional assumptions that Israel was very close to using nuclear weapons in this conflict (or even threatened to use nuclear weapons) and provides unique insight into how the Israeli government came to this decision.
Release of these materials coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War on October 6. The New York Times published an op-ed piece authored by Dr. Cohen on this topic on October 3. In addition to his faculty position with the Monterey Institute, Dr. Cohen is a senior fellow and director of the Nonproliferation Education Program at the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
This release is the first installment in the “Avner Cohen Collection,” one of the most expansive personal collections of primary source material on the Israeli nuclear program. The collection is being released by the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. More materials, with accompanying analysis, will be released and announced in the coming years.