In January 1961, just months after the U.S. discovery of Israel’s secret Dimona nuclear site in the Negev Desert (see Doc. D1), the U.S. Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee issued a postmortem report on the implications of Israel’s nuclear capabilities. The postmortem, which was publicly released in April 2015 as part of the U.S. National Security Archive’s Israeli Nuclear History special collection, attempts to explain why the U.S. intelligence community failed to discover Israel’s nuclear program until three years after Israel signed a secret nuclear deal with France. The report concludes that it was not the lack of evidence that led to the belated discovery but that the atomic energy intelligence community’s poor communication and analysis of available information enabled Israel to deceive the U.S. for years.
Presented below are excerpts from the postmortem. The full report and all other documents in the National Security Archive’s Israeli Nuclear History special collection are available at nsarchive.gwu.edu.