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24 March 2010


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William R. Cumming

Is there good open source material on the "theft" of special nuclear materials from the US by Israel allowing production of weaponary?

La Rana

I can't put into words how much I appreciate the Rothko at your heading, naturally.


@Mr. Cumming:
This is a very good, brief overview of the history of Israeli nukes: (By Steve Aftergood). http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/

It makes no mention of "stolen material" but this claim has been made many times. This (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17104) has Victor Gallinsky, a former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission claiming that "1968 smuggling past Euratom inspectors of two hundred tons of uranium ore to Israel, the CIA's conclusion at about the same time that Israel previously stole bomb-grade uranium from a US naval fuel plant, and the 1979 Vela satellite signal that was widely interpreted as an indication of an Israeli nuclear test." I have no idea if this is true, or why Gillinsky would be in a position to know what the CIA had or had not determined. Should be easy to track down though.

frank durkee

Let me ditto the Rothko comment above.


first I have to ditto the Rothko comments. Actually I have been wondering if earlier paintings / images weren't less easily recognizable Rothko's too.

Interestingly the other two comments allude to nuclear science / material. I think that the atom bombs on Japan had a huge impact on the US artistic impression. And yes, Rothko is my absolute favorite among the Abstract Expressionist/New York School artists.

I once struggled with Barnett Newman or especially US art critique concerning Barney & the abstract sublime all the way back through Lyotard, Kant and Burke. But that would be a much longer story ...

Allen Thomson

> "only confidential"

True, but CONFIDENTIAL is one of the three actual national security classifications that can get you thrown in jail for unauthorized disclosure to furriners.

> Vela satellite signal.

The wikipedia article on such is useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_Incident . In particular, the item about Tyler Drumheller (full disclosure: I put it there) seems worth following up. It says,

In his 2006 book On the Brink, the retired C.I.A. clandestine service officer, Tyler Drumheller, wrote of his 1983–88 tour-of-duty in South Africa:

"We had operational successes, most importantly regarding Pretoria's nuclear capability. My sources collectively provided incontrovertible evidence that the apartheid government had in fact tested a nuclear bomb in the South Atlantic in 1979, and that they had developed a delivery system with assistance from the Israelis."

Clifford Kiracofe

Stephen Green has written extensively on this issue. A brief article on Neocons at:

A useful book by him:

R Whitman

Allen Thomson:
The Vela Incident was well reported in the Journal"Science" , the magazine of the American Assn for the Advancement of Science in the news and comment section in several issues during 1979 and 1980. At least one of the articles was written by Gina Kolata who up until I lost track of her two years ago, was a science reporter for the New York Times.

A large flash of light was seen by satellites several hundred miles off the coast of South Africa 1979. The South Africans tried to pass it off as a large meteor crash but some radiation signatures were found. The consensus of the scientific community and the arms control community at that time, was that South Africa in conjunction with Israel tested a nuclear device.

When the ANC took over South Africa from the old apartheid government years later they publicly disposed of 7 or 8 nuclear weapons.

William R. Cumming

Thanks DanM, Allen Thomson, and R Whitman.

As to Victor Gallinsky the NRC has long been involved deeply with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and Nunn-Lugar anti-proliferation issues. So I would judge Mr. Gallinsky as credible. Perhaps others would not.

Allen Thomson

> The Vela Incident was well reported in the Journal"Science" , the magazine of the American Assn for the Advancement of Science in the news and comment section in several issues during 1979 and 1980.

Thanks for pointing that out. I'm a member of AAAS and can get into their archives, which contain the following items on Vela. (The last Marshall item was on the same page as a Kolata article, which may be what you're remembering.)

Flash Not Missed by Vela Still Veiled in Mist
Science 30 November 1979 206: 1051-1052

Scientists Fail to Solve Vela Mystery
Science 1 February 1980 207: 504-506

Navy Lab Concludes the Vela Saw a Bomb
Science 29 August 1980 209: 996-997

Science and Technology in the White House, 1977 to 1980: Part 2
Frank Press
Science 16 January 1981 211: 249-256

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