Declassified US documents from the 1970s suggest intelligence officials in the United States believe Israelis stole nuclear bomb-grade uranium from a nuclear facility in Pennsylvania.
Some 200 pounds (almost 91 kilograms) of nuke-grade uranium disappeared from a now-dismantled facility in Apollo, Pennsylvania, in the mid-1960s. The facility was owned by a company called Nuclear Materials & Equipment Corp., or Numec, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The missing uranium was enough for making several bombs as big as the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.
According to US government documents, seen by the Wall Street Journal, FBI officials who had begun an investigation in the late 1960s did raise questions about suspected dealings between Numec’s founder and president, Zalman Shapiro, and Israeli intelligence officials.
Meanwhile, as a CIA’s case for the suspected theft was not conclusive, a 1977 memo from a National Security Council staffer in President Jimmy Carter’s administration says, “I do not think that the President has plausible deniability” regarding the question over Israel’s involvement.
In a recent interview, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national-security adviser, said the evidence suggested that “something did transpire” but the issue was “very explosive [and] controversial” because it involved Israel.
“What are we going to say to the Israelis, ‘Give it back?’” Brzezinski said.
The recently released documents were obtained by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and, according to some federal officials, underscores the need for Washington to declassify the remaining information about the incident.
“We know the CIA thought the material was stolen. We want to know why they thought that,” said Victor Gilinsky, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The US officials’ suspicion over Israeli intelligence officials’ role in the disappearance of the 200 pounds of nuke-grade uranium comes as the Tel Aviv regime, which is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East and reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads, has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities and continues to defy international calls to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.