As the neoconservatives at the helm of the U.S. national security state push the Iranian crisis toward its culmination in the coming months, it will be useful to keep in mind the history of American knowledge of Israel¬ís nuclear weapons program, which is an essential element of the gathering crisis that is systematically ignored by the American media.  --  On Thursday, Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News (a project of the Federation of American Scientists) posted links to documents reviewing what the U.S. government knew when about Israel¬ís development of a program to build weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them....
ASSESSING THE ISRAELI NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM
By Steven Aftergood

Secrecy News
June 2, 2005

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html

"There is considerable evidence to indicate that Israel is engaged in developing capabilities in the nuclear weapons and delivery fields," according to a September 21, 1961 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE 4-3-61) which proceeded to describe that evidence.

The NIE was published as part of a remarkable collection of U.S. intelligence estimates on the proliferation of nuclear weapons from 1957-1967 compiled by the National Security Archive.

"The sensitivity of the Israeli nuclear issue and that nation's commitment to a policy of opacity on its nuclear weapons status has generally encouraged the U.S. government to take a highly restrictive approach to declassifying intelligence analysis on the Israeli program," observed William Burr, who edited the Archive compilation.

See "National Intelligence Estimates of the Nuclear Proliferation Problem: The First Ten Years, 1957-1967," National Security Archive, June 1, 2005:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB155/index.htm

The significance of the documents was discussed in the Israeli press today by Avner Cohen, author of the "The Last Taboo," a critique of the Israeli policy of nuclear opacity to be published next week.

See "CIA Estimated: By 1966 Israel will be a Nuclear Power" by Avner Cohen, Yediot Aharonot, June 2 (in Hebrew):

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3094093,00.html

A new bibliography of published Israeli research in nuclear science and technology has been prepared by independent researcher Mark Gorwitz, as part of a continuing project to map the propagation of nuclear knowledge around the world.

See "Bibliography of Israeli Nuclear Science Publications" by Mark Gorwitz, June 2005:

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/biblio.pdf