Eban Reveals a T U. N. Details on Atomic Development in Israel
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Eban Reveals a T U. N. Details on Atomic Development in Israel

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Details of atomic development in Israel was for the first time revealed here today by Ambassador Abba Eban, head of the Israel delegation, in a lengthy address delivered before the United Nations Political Committee outlining Israel’s stand on the “atoms-for-peace” plan now under discussion.

Mr. Eban pointed out that “Israel is both a contributor to the universal sum of theoretical and applied nuclear knowledge, and also a prospective beneficiary of the new potentialities. ” He emphasized that the number of physicists and chemists in Israel engaged in theoretical and applied research is, in relative terms, probably as high as in any other country in the world. He also stressed the fact that Israel’s “deepest interest” in atomic energy is due to the fact that the country faces heavy tasks of economic and social progress with a notable lack of any cheap source of fuel or electric power.

“These two factors, intellectual and scientific interest and practical need, both existing in unusually intense degree, have determined Israel’s preoccupation with this problem from the earliest days of the atomic decade,” Mr. Eban said. “As the Committee is aware, our first President, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, was concerned both as a scientist and as the architect of a nation, with the problem of compensating for natural deficiencies by the results of advanced research. This theme guided much of his chemical work in the field of synthetic processes, where he sought means of creating substitutes for deficient raw materials. It was equally natural that his interest should be aroused by the prospect of finding substitutes for natural power.

“Together, these two prospects–new materials and new power–appealed to his scientific imagination, as well as to his vision of a broader welfare for Israel and other small countries than their existing conventional resources seemed to promise. From the concluding days of the Second World War to the end of his life he was in contact with leading figures in the world of nuclear physics, many of whom shared both his scientific interests and his over-riding concern for the successful establishment of a Jewish homeland. With them, including the great Einstein, we have maintained the closest bonds of kinship which have exerted a formative influence on our scientific tradition, ” Mr. Eban reported.


“It thus happened that within a year of Israel’s establishment, with President Weizmann at the head of our State, the foundations of our nuclear program were laid, with the establishment of the Department of Isotope Research in the Weizmann Institute of Science at Rehovoth in the coastal plain. ” This department, Mr. Eban said, has worked assiduously and successfully for five years in the following fields, both theoretical and applied:

1. Radioactive isotopes of low activity; 2. The enrichment of heavy water by fractional distillation; and other related projects; 3. Cosmic rays; 4. The exploitation of low grade uranium ores (phosphates); 5. The study of the mechanism of chemical reactions by means of isotopic training; 6. Natural radioactivity. The determination of the sources and average age of underground water by measuring the tritium concentration; 7. The prospecting of possible underground deposits of radioactive solid materials. This work is conducted mainly in the Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The head of the Israel delegation disclosed that Israel has constructed a pilot plant which is already producing heavy water and that its method of production has been adopted and applied in Europe, especially in France. He indicated that, encouraged by the results of its work achieved in the field of nuclear research, the Weizmann Institute is now about to expand its activities in this field.


Turning to the nuclear work done by the Hebrew University’s Physics Department in Jerusalem, Ambassador Eban said that this department has worked in four fields: 1. The structure of molecules (nuclear spectroscopy); 2. Micro-wave research; 3. Energy radiation; 4. Semi-conductors.

“The first subject, now being investigated by Professor Racah, could be a far-reaching contribution in a fundamental field,” Mr. Eban said. “Meanwhile the results of tracer research have become used in some of Israel’s leading medical institutions. In the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center isotopes have been applied for diagnosis and treatment in blood diseases; cancer; and thyroid conditions.”

In discussing Israel’s experience and aspiration in nuclear physics, Mr. Eban mentioned the establishment of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission in 1953, with wide powers to supervise, coordinate and encourage the work which he described. “The record of achievement and of effort which I have outlined is, of course, modest in comparison with the impressive surveys which we have heard successively from the representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and the Soviet Union,” he declared. “It is, however, sufficient to explain why my government has a specific as well as a general interest in each of the four proposals which were outlined by Secretary Dulles in plenary session on September 23 and later analysed more fully in the Political Committee by Ambassador Lodge and other representatives of the seven-power group.”

Mr. Eban said that Israel applauds the decision of the sponsoring powers to establish an international organization for the peaceful use of atomic power without delay. “This organization,” he suggested, “should be conceived in terms of universal membership. Indeed, it is unlikely that any country with a specific stake in this problem will wish to be excluded. We hope that the discussions now proceeding will result in the full association of the Soviet Union in every part of the project – an aim to which the United States has clearly devoted much effort in its diplomatic relations,” he declared. He outlined a number of recommendations for the peaceful use of atomic energy.

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