Andy GrottoCIA Knew About Israeli Nukes in '74

So says the 1974 Special National Intelligence Assessment, “Prospects for further proliferation of nuclear weapons,” declassified the other day by the Bush administration. Avner Cohen and William Burr were able to get a portion of the document released in early 2006 under the Freedom of Information Act, but now the whole shebang is public.

I haven’t been able to find the text, but Haaretz has the best coverage so far of this breaking story.

Update: The document is available on the CIA’s FOIA page (thanks Allen!). It’s the fifth document down. I’ve also taken the liberty of converting the document to a .pdf file so it can be saved and downloaded.

Later Update, from Jeffrey As usual, the National Security Archive has been on top of the story since I was a child.


  1. Allen Thomson

    It’s in the FOIA section at

  2. AHM (History)

    The first six pages of the 1974 SNIE have been available from the National Security Archive (Nuclear Proliferation document 01382), including the information about the CIA’s knowledge of Israel in 1974, for a couple of years at least.

    What’s new here is the full analysis behind the conclusions. Interestingly enough, the second paragraph about India (B) is covered up in the newly-released CIA FOIA document, but NOT in the six-page extract in NSAEBB189.

    Finally, your .doc file has macros in it, which indicates a possible macro virus. May I suggest a PDF instead?

  3. hass (History)

    Ahem…this is hardly new

    New York Times reported this back in 1974. And just guess where Israel got uranium!

  4. Mad Dogs (History)

    OT, but sorta related (and I’d love to hear Andy’s and Jeffrey’s thoughts), check out this from the NYT (at )

    Syria Rebuilding on Site Destroyed by Israeli Bombs

    The puzzling site in Syria that Israeli jets bombed in September grew more curious on Friday with the release of a satellite photograph showing new construction there that resembles the site’s former main building.

    Israel’s air attack was directed against what Israeli and American intelligence analysts had judged to be a partly constructed nuclear reactor. The Syrians vigorously denied the atomic claim.

    Before the attack, satellite imagery showed a tall, square building there measuring about 150 feet long per side.

    After the attack, the Syrians wiped the area clean, with some analysis calling the speed of the cleanup a tacit admission of guilt. The barren site is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, 90 miles north of the Iraqi border.

    The image released Friday came from a private company, DigitalGlobe, in Longmont, Colo. It shows a tall, square building under construction that appears to closely resemble the original structure, with the exception that the roof is vaulted instead of flat. The photo was taken from space on Wednesday…

  5. Rwendland (History)

    Interesting read.

    Anyone know what the earliest released official doc seriously predicting Israel would build nuclear weapons is? The earliest I know of are two 1961 UK intelligence briefs, but there must have been U.S. docs at about the same time.

    A 6 June 1961 brief said Ben-Gurion had informed the Canadian Prime Minister that a pilot plutonium-separation plant would be built at Dimona – British intelligence concluded from this and other information that this “can only mean that Israel intends to produce nuclear weapons”. It also reports that the U.S. “speculate that Israel would be able to conduct a weapon test in late 1962 or early 1963” (based on a faulty belief Israel was building a 200MWt reactor).

    An earlier 27 March 1961 brief evaluates the Beersheba (Dimona) site concluding it was likely Israel was probably positioning itself so they could produce a weapon if they later wanted to, and 1964 was the earliest possible date for a weapon. Appendix has interesting diary of very early Isreali activities, like 1957 acquisition of reprocessing chemicals; and an amusing list of early Dimona cover stories.

    It’s unlikely British intelligence did not tell the CIA about this analysis.

  6. mark F (History)

    usaf counterproliferation centre article on the history of Israeli nuclear program

  7. kme

    One of the most encouraging things about reading that document is how far the NPT has come since then (and the fact that “peaceful nuclear explosives” have become seriously unfashionable!).

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