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Q: us law about israeli nuclear weapons ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: us law about israeli nuclear weapons
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: bugbear-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 18 Dec 2003 06:54 PST
Expires: 17 Jan 2004 06:54 PST
Question ID: 288279
Apparently an act of congress says that the US has to stop
funding Israel if they develop nuclear weapons.  What is this
act and what did it say?  I remember reading that the Israeli
response was to develop nuclear weapon *components*. Presumably
these could be assembled in seconds but since they were not
strictly speaking nuclear weapons, Israel could claim that 
they hadn't developed them.  Is that correct?

Request for Question Clarification by techtor-ga on 18 Dec 2003 12:26 PST
Hello Bugbear,
It seems that this issue is moot. From what I've found on the Net,
Israel has actually developed working nuclear weapons, but has denied
to the world that it has them. On cutting aid, I read in one website
article that President Eisenhower once threatened to cut US aid from
Israel, but this had to do with Israel's invasion of the Suez, and not
nuclear weapons. It even seems that the US generally doesn't mind if
Israel makes nuclear weapons, since it could most certainly be the one
to provide the latter materials for making them.

I read though that this case happened to Pakistan. It was receiving
aid from the US, but when the US discovered that the former was
building nuclear weapons, aid was cut. This was under the Carter
administration. Now the situation seems a bit changed with Pakistan
having become an ally in the 'war against terrorism'. Perhaps this is
the subject you are looking for?

Clarification of Question by bugbear-ga on 18 Dec 2003 19:32 PST
I read all this in (I think) a New York Times article
within the last year.
Subject: Re: us law about israeli nuclear weapons
Answered By: hlabadie-ga on 21 Dec 2003 11:58 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
The official position of Israel with regard to nuclear weapons is one
of "opacity", summed up by the deliberately ambiguous statement:
Israel will "not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the
Middle East." Obviously, this can mean either that Israel will not be
the first to build nuclear weapons in the Middle East, or that Israel
will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

It has been an open secret since the late 1960s that Israel has had
nuclear weapons. The CIA estimated in 1969 that Israel had constructed
one or two atomic bombs. Since that first estimate, the numbers of
atomic weapons, both battlefield and strategic weapons, possessed by
Israel has grown steadily to a current figure between 100 and 200. It
has been reported that Israel has actually armed and deployed some
atomic weapons on at least two occasions.

The United States government is required by law (USC Title 22, Chapter
72, subchapter 1) to invoke certain sanctions or prohibitions against
any "person" (as defined by the act, a person includes a foreign
country) who has been certified by the President as having engaged in
any prohibited action, including "the use, development, production,
stockpiling, or other acquisition of any nuclear explosive device."
The sanctions include:

      (1) Ban on dealings in Government finance
      (2) Restrictions on operations

Prohibition (1) includes the dealing in any US Government debt
instrument, in other words, the buying or selling of Government bonds.
Prohibition (2) includes any new business operations in the US.

The act gives the President the option of suspending these sanctions
while he is negotiating a settlement with a foreign government which
has been declared to be in violation, or of waiving them if he
determines that the continuing of the sanctions would present a risk
to the US or international finance markets, but he is obliged to make
a report to Congress within 90 days.

The official position of the US Government has been one of willful
ignorance of an Israeli nuclear capacity. This position has become
more difficult to maintain since the revelations by Mordechai Vanunu,
a nuclear technician, of the activities at the Dimona nuclear
facility, which had been subjected only to cursory inspection, its
bomb production levels being concealed underground.
(Vanunu has been tried and imprisoned, and is scheduled for relase in 2004.)

Nuclear Weapons - Israel

"There followed two decades in which the United States, through a
combination of benign neglect, erroneous analysis, and successful
Israeli deception, failed to discern first the details of Israel's
nuclear program."
"Although the United States government did not encourage or approve of
the Israeli nuclear program, it also did nothing to stop it. Walworth
Barbour, US ambassador to Israel from 1961-73, the bomb program's
crucial years, primarily saw his job as being to insulate the
President from facts which might compel him to act on the nuclear
issue, alledgedly saying at one point that "The President did not send
me there to give him problems. He does not want to be told any bad
"The actual size and composition of Israel's nuclear stockpile is
uncertain, and is the subject of various estimates and reports. It is
widely reported that Israel had two bombs in 1967, and that Prime
Minister Eshkol ordered them armed in Israel's first nuclear alert
during the Six-Day War. It is also reported that, fearing defeat in
the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israelis assembled 13
twenty-kiloton atomic bombs."
"In 1986 descriptions and photographs of Israeli nuclear warheads were
published in the London Sunday Times of a purported underground bomb
factory. The photographs were taken by Mordechai Vanunu, a dismissed
Israeli nuclear technician. His information led some experts to
conclude that Israel had a stockpile of 100 to 200 nuclear devices at
that time."

United States Code

Israel's Nuclear Development & Strategy: Future Ramifications for the
Middle East Regional Balance


BBC Transcript of "Israel's Secret Weapon" (part 1)
Transcript, /BBC World Service,/ 29 June 2003

The Bomb That Never Is

"Those who believe that opacity has no substitute--and almost the
entire Israeli defense establishment adheres to that position--rely on
two major arguments. The first is based on the notion that any
deviation from the policy will be costly--causing damage to
U.S.-Israeli relations, possibly even resulting in sanctions. And it
could, they add, undermine U.S. nonproliferation policy itself.
Therefore, opacity is described as indispensable for both American and
Israeli vital interests."

Congressional Research Service [CRS] Reports  Nuclear, Chemical and
Missile Weapons and Proliferation



bugbear-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $6.00
Thanks very much; that is a very thorough answer.

Subject: Re: us law about israeli nuclear weapons
From: hlabadie-ga on 19 Dec 2003 07:15 PST
There is no law aimed at Israel in particular. There are prohibitions
that must be invoked if a foreign state is declared to have violated
US definitions of nuclear non-proliferation.

"(a) ''Prohibited activity'' defined
      For purposes of this section, the term ''prohibited activity''
    means the act of knowingly, materially, and directly contributing
    or attempting to contribute, through the provision of financing, to
        (1) the acquisition of unsafeguarded special nuclear material;
        (2) the use, development, production, stockpiling, or other
      acquisition of any nuclear explosive device,
    by any individual, group, or non-nuclear-weapon state.
    (b) Prohibition
      To the extent that the United States has jurisdiction to prohibit
    such activity by such person, no United States person and no
    foreign person may engage in any prohibited activity.
    (c) Presidential determination and order with respect to United
        States and foreign persons
      If the President determines,, (FOOTNOTE 1) that a United States
    person or a foreign person has engaged in a prohibited activity
    (without regard to whether subsection (b) of this section applies),
    the President shall, by order, impose the sanctions described in
    subsection (d) of this section on such person."

Subject: Re: us law about israeli nuclear weapons
From: hlabadie-ga on 21 Dec 2003 14:19 PST
Thank you for the tip and the rating.


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