Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

Opinion Editorials, December 2012


Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)




FBI Papers Suggest Israeli PM Netanyahu Connected to Nuke Smuggling

IRemp, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 10, 2012




Rush Transcript by IRemp:

Nuclear Israel: the secret that is not
Announcer: the United Nations General Assembly is pressing Israel to reveal its nuclear arsenal.  Israel has lashed out against the overwhelming approval of the resolution which calls for international inspectors be allowed to inspect its atomic program, and its foreign minister said the vote was meaningless.
The country also rejected a UN-backed conference on a nuke-free Middle East.  Israel denies it has nuclear weapons, but refuses to provide proof that it doesn't.  RT's Paula Slier tried to lift the veil surrounding Israel's atomic program.
Paula Slier:  It's a story that has all the ingredients and intrigue of a Hollywood blockbuster.  Nuclear smuggling, a Hollywood producer, and an Israeli prime minister.  It's a story that here in Tel Aviv the authorities don't want to talk about.  But two Israeli-Americans have put pen to paper. 
Joseph Gelman, coauthor with Meir Doran, of the book Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon- Arnon Milchan: It's probably the least best-kept secret in the world. 
Paula Slier:  On center stage is Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli undercover agent who is alleged to have smuggled nuclear triggers from the United States into Israel.  A Californian engineer, Richard Kelley Smyth, says he was recruited by Milchan in the early 1970's.  Smyth was later convicted in the United States of running an American front-company to help Milchan. 
The story first surfaced in FBI files released [to IRmep] at the end of last year, and in Joseph Gelman's tell-all book "Confidential."
Gelman: This was a very limited operation.  In fact, when the Lakam, which is the Hebrew acronym for science liaison burea was established, even the Mossad was unaware of its existence.  Basically, it was created behind the backs of Israel's security establishment.     
Paula Slier:  Earlier this year, the FBI released these documents from a seven-year investigation which began in 1985.  They show how a network of front companies connected to the Israeli Defense Ministry smuggled nuclear triggers out of the United States to Israel.
Grant F. Smith, IRmep research director: What's apparent in the documents is that the Israeli Ministry of Defense would place an order for prohibited items with an Israeli company called Heli Trading.  Heli Trading is where Benjamin Netanyahu worked and would meet with Richard Kelly Smyth when he visited Israel.  Then they would transfer the order to an organization called Milco in California to fulfill the order, violating the [Arms] Export Control Act, and shipping the triggers out of the United States.  
Paula Slier:  They called the operation "Project Pinto." All of the allegations are based on Smyth's testimony, and many have been surprised by their detail. 
Grant F. Smith: If you take a look at the documents, Netanyahu is definitely mentioned in the document.  And that#s what surprised us, because typically you get two types of [Freedom of Information Act} censors of this type of document.  Sometimes they'll block off an entire page.  Sometimes they'll just block off a name.  In this case, Netanyahu's name is clearly stated in the documents. 
Paula Slier:  In the documents it is alleged that Netanyahu asked Milchan, the Hollywood producer, not to discuss the matter publicly.  In a written response to RT, the Israeli Foreign Ministry denied all allegations, which is hardly a surprise, as Tel Aviv's official position is neither to confirm nor deny possession of nuclear arms.  Relatively few people have knowledge of the overall Israeli nuclear program, and there are few leaks.  The last time an Israeli insider leaked confidential information was way back in 1986.
Nuclear technician Mordecai Vanunu was subsequently kidnapped by Israeli agents in Italy and brought back to faced trial, convicted and served 18 years of jail time--much of it in solitary confinement.  
Joseph Gelman: And that operation went on for many years and Israel successfully achieved the technologies and materials necessary to obtain the nuclear deterrent arsenal that it has today, probably the fifth largest arsenal in the world. 
Paula Slier:  On the other side of the story, aside from the leaked documents, Washington too is keeping quiet.  Israeli nuclear capabilities are some of the most guarded secrets the US government holds.  Far more secret, some would argue, than information it has about Iran.  But for the forseeable future,  the book on Israel's nuclear secrets is closed.  Paula Slier, RT, Israel.

Prepared by IRemp




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &