Australian Files Reveal Alleged Knowledge of Israel Nuclear Arms

Sydney Morning Herald cites declassified government files that show Australia believed Israel possesses atomic weapons for over 30 years.

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Israel's Negev Nuclear Research Center, Dimona.
Israel's Negev Nuclear Research Center, Dimona.Credit: Reuters / Haaretz Archive

Declassified Australian government files allegedly reveal that Australian officials have believed for over 30 years that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Briefing papers from 1987 prepared for then Foreign Minister Bill Hayden state that "intelligence assessments are that Israel has a small arsenal of nuclear weapons (possibly about 20). Israel's technological capabilities would enable it confidently to deploy such weapons without recourse to a nuclear test," the report said.

Also in 1987, the same foreign minister told the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Hans Blix in a confidential message that "there appeared no doubt that Israel had nuclear weapons."

The conversation between the two was made against the background of Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu's treason trial and subsequent conviction for revealing Israel's alleged nuclear program.

Despite his statements in his communications with Blix, the foreign minister told the Australian parliament in 1987 that Australia has "no information to corroborate these allegations.''

But according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the foreign ministry files, declassified per the request of Fairfax Media, show Australia had an eye on the alleged Israeli nuclear program since the 1950s.

"Australia scooped US and British intelligence when in 1966 its Atomic Energy Commission obtained ''highly sensitive'' information from the French builders of Israel's Dimona nuclear facility," the article says, "revealing the existence of a chemical processing plant to extract plutonium from spent reactor fuel. By 1970 Australia's Joint Intelligence Organisation thought 'Israel could have some weapons.'"

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