French Atomic Tests in Sahara Desert Increase Radioactivity in Israel

Radioactivity in Israel increased more than a hundredfold after last year’s French atomic tests in the Sahara Desert, but “this does not constitute a danger to the health of the Israeli population, “the Knesset (Parliament) was assured here last night by Israel Barzilai, Minister of Health. He made his statement in reply to a Communist deputy, Tewfik Toubi, who read to the House excerpts from an article by Israeli scientists, published in a British scientific magazine.

Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, the Minister of Health declared, is constantly testing milk in Israel to determine radioactive content. Tests have shown, he said, that, after the French explosion of an atomic bomb in the Sahara, the Picard-Curie index of radioactivity rose in Israel from 0.08 to 8,25, However, Mr. Barzilai said, the fallout from the French bomb did not contain Strontium-90, the radioisotope dangerous to the body because it is absorbed into the bone structure.

Mr. Barzilai, who is a member of the left-wing Mapam Party, assured the Knesset that, while he personally and publicly opposed the French atomic tests, he had done so “as a private citizen. ” However, he made it clear that the Government’s view calls for non-interference in the French nuclear testing program.

The Knesset last night also started debate on a government bill for renewal of the potash industry’s concession in the Negev and its extension to the year 1999, reducing the government’s voting power in the Potash company to 35 percent. Passage of the bill is required to assure vast expansion projects for the potash industry through a $25, 000, 000 loan from the World Bank and an additional loan of $10, 000, 000 from an unidentified American financial institution. The bill was put over for final reading in 12 to 15 days.

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