WASHINGTON (Dec. 18)
The Israeli Embassy here today denied a report published in London and in Washington that Israel has developed a nuclear reactor which will enable the Jewish State to build an atomic bomb. Similar denials were made also in Jerusalem.
The report, published in the Washington Post today, said that it is officially established in Washington that Israel has secretly developed a nuclear reactor which would make it possible for the State of Israel to produce an atomic bomb within perhaps five years. The report was written by Chalmers M. Roberts, the Post’s leading political writer.
“It was the discovery of this development, unknown to the United States Government until very recently, which brought about a December 9 secret conference in Washington of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee of the U.S. Congress,” the Post reported. “Committee members were called here from their homes all across the nation to hear a secret briefing on the Israeli atomic military development by State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials.” Word of this development had been transmitted to President-elect John F. Kennedy by CIA chief Allen W. Dulles, the Post said.
(On Friday, the London Express reported Israel was believed by U.S. and British intelligence to be making an experimental atomic bomb. Reuters reported. But, an Israel Embassy spokesman in London later told Reuters that Israel is “not building an atom bomb and has no intention of doing so.” The spokesman said: “We have been for some years engaged in atomic research, especially the development of isotopes and heavy water. But Israel has neither the means nor the intention of using her atomic research for the construction of an atom bomb.”)
The Washington Post said that the Israeli atomic development came as a surprise to American officials. “Whether or not Israel intends to build a nuclear weapon, she now has the capability. And the five-year estimate could be wrong as have been estimates of Soviet progress, by a matter of years,” the paper commented.
The Israel Embassy in Washington indicated in its statement that Israel has no such capacity The statement said: “Israel’s atomic research program was directed exclusively to peaceful use. Israel has neither the practical means nor the desire to use her atomic research for other than peaceful purposes–such as the development of isotopes for agricultural and medical application.”
STATE DEPARTMENT ABSTAINS FROM COMMENT; NOTES ISRAEL’S DENIAL
A State Department spokesman refused to comment on the substance of the Washington Post report. All he said was: “We have noticed the various press reports on this subject. We have also noticed the statement by the Israeli Embassy in London that Israel is not building an atom bomb and has no intention of doing so.”
The Washington Post stressed that four nations, the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France are manufacturing atomic bombs. “If Israel is the next to go in to production, she thus would be the fifth nuclear power,” the paper pointed out. It asserted that development of nuclear weapons by Israel could radically upset the Arab-Israel balance, “quite likely breaking the current relative calm in the long-time Arab-Israeli controversy.”
Israel and the Arabs, said the Post, have long been involved in a precarious balance of conventional weapons. “The United Arab Republic has received large quantities of Soviet jet aircraft and other weapons, while Israel has obtained the most modern jets from France,” the Washington paper stated.