Jeffrey LewisReferences to 1987 IDA Report

I have a new column at about the 1987 Institute for Defense Analyses report,  IDA Memorandum, Report M-317 Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations.

The report is now widely available online, but copies have been floating around for years.  The picture atop the post is my copy. (You can tell the provenance of any copy by the upper right hand corner which notes “Copy 2 of 5 copies” and so on.)

In the column, I didn’t have space to point out how many times this document has already been mentioned in the press.  I do here.

The document is hardly secret.  I am pretty sure IDA announced it’s publication in the Technical Reports Awareness Circular so people could order it.  (Although I need to find the right volume.) No matter. Here you go:

And, since that is hard to read, here is the entry for six IDA reports covered by this volume of TRAC, including IDA MR-M-317 Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations.

One thing I wanted to point out is how often the report has been referenced publicly.  After all, I tracked down a copy because I had heard about it and seen it cited many times.  Here is a short list.

The first instance I can find is a 1989 article by Michael Gordon in the New York Times.  Gordon wrote:

A 1987 Pentagon-commissioned report, which was disclosed this week, asserts that there is close cooperation between the Israeli universities and Rafael, a military research and development institute, and SOREQ, a scientific center that does research in advanced physics, which the report asserts can be applied in the development of nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon-commissioned report was published by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Government-financed research center. Information in the report was gathered by a group of American consultants who visited Israel. The material on Israel’s program of nuclear research, for example, was prepared by R. Norris Keeler, a head of physics at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1971 to 1975. Collaboration Seen as Worrisome

The report asserts that Israel is ”roughly where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960” and adds that SOREQ is developing computer codes that could be useful in ”in studying the implosion of nuclear devices.” The report also states that Rafael and Technion have collaborated ”on the development and simulation of ballistic missile re-entry vehicles.”

See: Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Sees Israeli Help in Pretoria’s Missile Work,” New York Times, October 27, 1989.

The second instance is W. Seth Carus’s Cruise Missile Proliferation in the 1990s.  Carus wasn’t interested in nuclear weapons, but noted the report contained “the first description of the Delilah” cruise missile.

The third instance is a book by William Burrows and Robert Windrem entitled, Critical Mass: The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World (Simon and Schuster, 1994). I think they had a copy, although it isn’t exactly clear to me from the text.

That’s just for starters.  There are now plenty of copies floating around.  I am not certain, but I suspect there might be a copy in the Paul Leventhal files at UT-Austin. Someone should take a peek there, as well as with our friends at the National Security Archive.

But that’s what the comments are for!



  1. weaponeer (History)
  2. DDP (History)
    • Jeffrey (History)

      Sorry — I ommitted the context. An anti-Israel group posted the document online after gaining access through a lawsuit, leading to a flurry of terrible stories misrepresenting the document. My point was it has been available for a long time. Will update the post for clarity.

    • Jonah Speaks (History)

      The wonk blog first got wind of this here: based on a tip from Bradley Laing on February 12, 2015.

      The breaking Courthouse News report was here:

      An alternate link for the same FOIA’d document is here: The report was not declassified, because it was never classified. It was simply restricted in its initial distribution, but (as Jeffrey notes) the 1987 IDA report has been in the public domain for several years already. The report was prepared for DOD under contract, but its publication does not indicate official endorsement by DOD.

      The Courthouse News report was poorly written. Nothing in the news report or the FOIA’d document demonstrates “the U.S. government’s extensive help to Israel in that nation’s development of a nuclear bomb.” That would be a clear violation of the NPT and BIG news if it were true, but it’s not true.

  3. CC (History)

    Is this document protected by copyright? If not, why don’t you post an unredacted scan?

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I’d have to scan the damn thing, that’s why. I might scan the summary relating to other NATO countries, but I swear its super freaking boring.

  4. Hass (History)

    The point is that the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended by the Symington Amendment of 1976 and the Glenn Amendment of 1977 prohibit US military assistance to countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology outside of international nonproliferation regimes. Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If Congress wishes to provide US taxpayer funded foreign aid to Israel in compliance with US law, it may do so only under a special waiver from the office of the President as in the case for Pakistan.

  5. Matt (History)

    Is your copy complete or censored like the Cryptome version? I can’t tell if the text in the PDF copy linked above was hidden before or after scanning.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I have the summary (including the summary of all the NATO states) and stage Israel section. There are no redactions.

  6. nukeman (History)

    As far as I know I was the first person to notify Steven Aftergood of the non-classification status of the IDA document, and the current distribution status of the document. His return email acknowledges that my analysis concerning the IDA document was correct.

    For anyone interested you can see a bibliography of mine on Israeli nuclear related research on the FAS website. I can provide further information on this topic to anyone interested.

  7. Yossi (History)

    Long time no see…

    Wikipedia has a relevant entry:

    that contains the following paragraph:

    “The President of the United States has violated the law to ease sanctions on India and Pakistan, and by granting an informal exception for Israel.”

    However the reference for the last part seems to be:

    Chomsky, Noam (1992).
    What Uncle Sam Really Wants.
    Odonian Press. pp. 22–25.
    ISBN 1-878825-01-1

    which is not readily available and may be unsatisfactory.

    Is there some better source on this issue?

    • Yossi (History)

      Sorry, my Chomsky reference above included wrong page numbers. I found the book online and yes, it’s not a satisfactory source. I guess I was naive to think it would be that easy.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      Sanctions usually allow a Presidential waiver. So, I suspect Dr. Chomsky is confusing “illegal” with “policy I don’t like.”