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Norway Mulls Probe of How Its Heavy Water Was Used by Israel

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Norwegian authorities are studying the feasibility of conducting their own investigation of whether heavy water Norway sold to Israel several years ago was used to make nuclear weapons, according to a report by Norinform, the official Norwegian news agency Monday.

Heavy water is enriched in deuterium, the hydrogen isotope twice the mass of ordinary hydrogen as it occurs in water and can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

At issue is whether Norway possesses the necessary technology for such a study. The Foreign Ministry in Oslo will also investigate whether France may have sold Norwegian heavy water to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, a Ministry spokesman, Jan Willy Bronebakk, said.

Norway had proposed that Israel allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct an investigation of how 20 tons of heavy water it sold to Israel was used. Israel rejected this in a letter to Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg on grounds that the probe is technically difficult. Israel indicated also that it lacks confidence in the independence of the IAEA, but that response was not seen as a clear-cut refusal by Oslo.

The allegation that France sold Norwegian heavy water to Israel is continued in the book “Deux Bombes” by the French writer Pierre Pean, which deals with nuclear cooperation between France and Israel in past years. Norway sold 100 tons of heavy water to France in the period under review.

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