JERUSALEM (Dec. 19)
Israel Government sources strongly denied today reports that Israel was on the road to manufacture of atomic weapons. They expressed concern that the widely featured reports would adversely affect American-Israel relations and would give the United Arab Republic additional grounds for pressure on the Soviet Union for more armaments.
The Israel Atomic Energy Commission issued a statement this morning categorically affirming that “Israel is not engaged in the manufacture of atomic weapons. Atomic research in Israel is destined for industry, agriculture, medicine and science.” The statement drew attention to the fact that a reactor with an ultimate capacity of 1,000 kilowatts had recently been put into operation. This reactor was constructed with American aid.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said today it had “nothing to add” to the commission’s statement. Formal denials of the A-bomb report were made today by the Israel embassies in London and Paris.
Soviet propaganda agencies were quick to seize on the A-bomb story to incite the Arab world against Israel and the West. Arabic-language broadcasts, beamed from the Soviet Union to the Middle East, summarily rejected the Israeli denials and warned of new dangers confronting the Arab world at the hands of Israel.
U.S. OFFICIAL SAYS WASHINGTON QUERIED ISRAEL ON ATOMIC WEAPONS
Two days ago, the Foreign Ministry categorically denied knowledge of reports that Ambassador Avraham Harman had been secretly and urgently called to the state Department in connection with the A-bomb reports. Its spokesman today said he did not know whether Washington had made inquiries of Israel.
(In Washington, the Israel Embassy declined to disclose any information with regard to the reported diplomatic communications and categorically denied any knowledge of a second atomic reactor in Israel.
(John A. McCone, chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, said last night that the United States had officially requested information from Israel on the reports. His statement, the Israel Embassy said, today had been “brought to the attention of the Israel Government.”
(Mr. McCone told the Washington Post and Times-Herald that there was no relation between the suspected plutonium breeder reactor and the smaller reactor which the United States had helped to build. He said that “our information is incomplete and unofficial, but quite obviously this would be a second reactor.”)
Israel, almost since its foundation, has pinned great hopes on the development of atomic energy as a source of fuel and power. A report by the National Planning Association in 1957 visualized development of atom-powered industrial communities in the Negev. Plans for the first research reactor was announced in 1958. The United States paid $50,000 of the cost of its construction and, last March, provided the enriched uranium and other materials necessary for its operation. The reactor was first activated last July. It is located south of Tel Aviv at Rabi Rubin.