Ben-gurion Reports on New Atomic Reactor; Stresses Peaceful Purposes
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Ben-gurion Reports on New Atomic Reactor; Stresses Peaceful Purposes

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Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion today said in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, that Israel is building a second atomic reactor, with a capacity of about 24,000 kilowatts. However, he emphasized that the reactor will not be ready before three or four years from now and will be dedicated solely to peaceful purposes. When completed, it will be open to students of other countries, he declared.

The Prime Minister, who was replying to a formal question, asked in the Knesset by a member of his own Mapai party, recalled that Israel was the first nation to urge Middle East disarmament even before the subject of general disarmament had become a subject of international discussion. He flatly denied reports alleging that Israel’s atomic research is designed for offensive purposes. These reports, he said, are based on false sources–either unknowing or deliberate.

The Prime Minister said:

“As it is well known, we, with the aid of the United States Government, erected a small atomic reactor for training purposes, at Nabi Rubin, with a capacity of about 1,000 kilowatts. For the development of the Negev, which we regard as our main objective during the coming decade, we are developing a wide range of scientific research.

“For this purpose, we established at Beersheba the Arid Zone Research Institute, and we are also in the process of erecting a research reactor with a capacity of 24,000 kilowatts, which will serve the needs of agriculture, health and science, and will give Israeli scientists and technicians the experience required to build an atomic power reactor in the future.

“The research reactor which we are now building in the Negev will not be completed for another three to four years. It is needless to emphasize that this reactor is dedicated entirely to peaceful purposes. It is being built under the direction of Israeli experts and, when completed, will be open to students of other countries.” The Premier added that the new Israeli reactor is similar to the one being built now in India with the help of the Canadian Government.


Questioned specifically by a member of Parliament representing the right-wing Herut party, the Premier again denied that Israel is producing an atom bomb, and called attention to the fact that the Israel Government, “as it is well known, has proposed general and total disarmament in Israel and in the neighboring Arab states, on condition that there would be mutual rights of inspection–by Israel in Arab states and by Arabs in Israel.”

Observers here assumed that Mr. Ben-Gurion’s reiteration of the proposal for Arab-Israeli disarmament under mutual inspection serves as a hint that Israel will not agree to any unilateral inspection of her atomic facilities, even by friendly powers like the United States. It was believed here that Washington is, presumably, aware of this attitude.

Other observers here expressed surprise that the United States learned about Israel’s work on the second atomic reactor only recently. They pointed out that this fact was widely known here, not only among hundreds of workers engaged on the building project but also by sightseer to whom the site of the new facility is pointed out by guides as buses pass the vicinity.

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