In a curious action, the 1974 National Intelligence Assessment on foreign nation’s nuclear arms development programs was released by the Bush Administration on the eve of his trip to Israel and the Gulf States. The NIA contains some rather stunning wording – in prticular, the assessment by CIA that:
We believe Israel already has produced nuclear weapons. . .We do not expect the Israelis to provide confirmation of widespread suspicions of their capability, either by nuclear testing or by threats of use, short of a gravethreat to the nation’s existence. Future emphasis is likely to be on. . .manufacturing missiles more capable in terms of distance and accuracy than the existnig 260-mile Jerhico, and acquiring or perfecting weapons for aircraft delivery.
(The extract attached above is part of a 1975 State Department paper that was obtained in 2006 under a FOIA request by scholars Avner Cohen and William Burr which purports to disagree with CIA’s conclusions. In fact, in 1974 State as well as several other agencies were said to have agreed with CIA’s assesment…)
Some may ask about the "so what?" factor — afterall, Israel and nukes is one of the more poorly hidden "secrets" in the region. Still, US offical policy has been to deny the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons, a policy that serves to complicate matters when trying to staunch proliferation in the region where other states, like Iraq and Iran are concerned. The fact tht now apparently twenty-six yers ago the US intelligence community agreed that was the case underscores this apparent double standard.
Haaretz (Jerusalem) broke the story and possessing the full copy of the assessment, write in the same article, this item about Iran’s nuclear program –pre-Revolution:
On Iran, the 1974 NIE said, "there is no doubt of the Shah’s ambition to make Iran a power to reckon with. If he is alive in the mid-80’s, if Iran has a full-fledged nuclear power industry and all the facilities necessary for nuclear weapons, and if other countries have proceeded with weapons development, we have no doubt that Iran will follow suit."
The Shah’s ouster in 1979 (and death a year later) apparently slowed down Iran’s nuclear project.
The authors of the NIE wrote that the U.S. helped France expedite its nuclear program, France in turn helped Israel, and much like France and India, Israel, "while unlikely to foster proliferation as a matter of national policy, probably will prove susceptible to the hue of economic and political advantages to be gained from exporting materials, technology and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons programs."
More to follow, we’re sure –
and we’re looking for the full NIA as well...