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Israeli Nukes, US Foreign Aid and the Symington Amendment.


The following document case file reveals the slow decline of  the policy of "strategic ambiguity" whereby US and Israeli officials deny the existence of the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal in order to continue unfettered US military aid.
Document/File Date Contents
1960 (PDF) CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate released on June 5, 2009.  Israel's nukes and role in foreign policy "assertiveness."

"Possession of a nuclear weapon capability, or even the prospect of achieving it, would clearly give Israel a greater sense of security, self-confidence, and assertiveness...Israel would be less inclined than ever to make concessions..."
1963 President John F. Kennedy insists on US inspections of Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor in a secret letter to Prime Minister Levi Eskol.
1970 Treaty on the Non proliferation of Nuclear Weapons enters into force.
1976 The US passes the Symington Amendment of  1976. Symington Amendment prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards. Israel never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or subjected its nuclear weapons facilities to IAEA inspections.

The linked Committee on International Relations report on the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 references (PDF page 92, document page 52) hearings chaired by Symington in 1975 and 1976:

"The concepts of a multilateral approach to reprocessing and enrichment and of full safeguards was widely supported in hearings held last year and this year by the Subcommittee on Arms Control, International Organizations and Security Agreements, chaired by Senator Symington. The Committee believes that the goals of this section are consistent with the policy objectives of the executive branch. If properly implemented this section would reinforce Executive Branch efforts to impress upon other governments the United States' desire to control the dangerous spread of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing material. The Committee believes that the consequences of proliferation are so serious that the United States should be willing to impose penalties upon nations proceeding on a possible course to nuclear weapons without taking the reassuring steps this section is designed to promote.

As Senator Symington, the sponsor of this amendment, noted, "In effect, this amendment says to other nations, if you wish to take the dangerous and costly steps necessary to achieve a nuclear weapons option, you cannot expect the United States to help underwrite that effort indirectly or directly."
1977 Glenn Amendment of 1977 calls for an end to aid to countries that import reprocessing technology.
1978 The General Accounting Office investigates Israeli diversion of weapons grade uranium from the United States and produces the report "Nuclear Diversion in the U.S.? 13 Years of Contradiction and Confusion."  It remains classified until May 6, 2010.
1986 The Sunday Times publishes "The secrets of Israel's nuclear arsenal/ Atomic technician Mordechai Vanunu reveals secret weapons production."
1987 The Department of Defense charters a study to determine which countries might have technology to contribute to its "Strategic Defense Initiative" or "Star Wars" missile defense program. Although the report documents Israel's extensive nuclear weapons program, US aid continues to flow and no waivers are issued by the President.
2008 Former president Jimmy Carter names Israel as a nuclear weapons power.
2008 The US Army names Israel as a nuclear weapons power.
2009 AIPAC and ZOA lobby for $2.775 billion in US military aid for Israel
2017 CIA releases new portions of the 1974 SNIE
2018 Comparison of 2008 SNIE release with 2017 release


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