The New Statesmen: UK sold plutonium to Israel to develop nuclear weapons
Iran-UK, Politics, 3/10/2006
Britain not only secretly sold Israel heavy water but also supplied plutonium to help Israel develop nuclear weapons, a UK weekly has revealed.
The plutonium, supplied by the UK's Atomic Energy Authority, was delivered so that Tel Aviv was able to put together a pair of crude nuclear bombs, just in case things did not go as planned in the 1967 Six-Day war against the Arab states, the New Statesman report.
The New Statesmen (www.newstatesman.com) report said that as the Israeli military attacked Egypt's they had secured two nuclear bombs. It reported " In the weeks before Israel took on the Arab world in June 1967 it put together a pair of crude nuclear bombs, just in case things didn't go as planned. Making them required not only Israeli ingenuity but also plenty of help from abroad. It has been known for some time that the French helped build Israel's reactor and reprocessing plant at Dimona, but over the past year our research team at BBC Newsnight has unearthed something no less astonishing and much closer to home - top-secret files which show how Britain helped Israel get the atomic bomb."
The fresh evidence comes after BBC television's Newsnight first reported last August that documents had come to light showing that Britain secretly shipped to Israel a surplus of 20 tons of heavy water in 1958 that was originally supplied by Norway.
In December, the program obtained fresh documents under the country's Freedom of Information Act that confirmed the UK government was a knowing party to the deal that was crucial to Israel's nuclear arms program.
But in its edition,, the New Statesman magazine reported that as well as heavy water, Britain also sold Israel a whole range of other exotic chemicals, including plutonium, uranium-235, beryllium and lithium-6, used in atom and even hydrogen bombs.
The New Statesmen cover story, entitled, "Britain's Dirty Secret", suggested that a driving force behind the sales was no other than its representative at the International Atomic Energy Authority, Michael Israel Michaels.
Michaels was said not only to have claimed that Israel did not have a nuclear weapons program but was behind overcoming objections from the foreign and defense ministries to export ten milligrams of plutonium to Israel in 1966.
"It occurred to him that a friendly power might give Israel a sample of plutonium to speed up the process" of making nuclear weapons when it was thought that Israel was years away, the magazine said.
The reason for the UK's crucial role was that at that time there was no US-Israel alliance and was even reported that Washington was opposed to nuclear proliferation.
The New Stateman indicated that the British government could find itself in trouble at the IAEA for breaching the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, saying that it still has yet to find time to tell the UN watchdog about the plutonium and uranium sales.
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