Back in 1987, according to a tightly-held report produced for the Pentagon, (PDF) the Israelis were "developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level."
Such research was taking place in Israeli facilities similar to the major US nuclear weapons development sites. "The SOREQ and the Dimona/Beer Shiva facilities are the equivalent of our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. The SOREQ center runs the full nuclear gamut of activities from engineering, administration and non-destructive testing to electro-optics, pulsed power, process engineering and chemistry and nuclear research and safety. This is the technology base required for nuclear weapons design and fabrication."
Israel’s facilities at the time were stunningly advanced. "The capability of SOREQ to support SDIO and nuclear technologies is almost an exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories." The report, produced by the Institute for Defense Analysis for the Department of Defense was to provide an assessment of NATO and Israel’s weapons development initiatives of potential application to the Reagan Administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI more popularly known as "Star Wars."
Informal and Freedom of Information Act release of such information is rare. Under two known gag orders – punishable by imprisonment – US security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program. GEN-16 is a "no-comment" regulation on "classified information in the public domain." "DOE Classification Bulletin WPN-136 on Foreign Nuclear Capabilities" forbids stating what 63.9 percent of Americans already know – that Israel has a nuclear arsenal.
The 1987 report’s confirmation of Israel’s advanced nuclear weapons program should have immediately triggered a cutoff in all U.S. aid to Israel under the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Although 100 copies of the tightly-controlled report were apparently published, none seem to have made their way into the office of the President in time to cut off any of the $82 billion in aid subsequently delivered to Israel – or publicly issue the required waivers. This is done in the case of other countries with weapons programs operating outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime such as Pakistan.
Similarly, the US did not move to curb as required Israel’s weapons-related work using the Soreq reactor, lab and testing facilities – provided by US taxpayers in the late 1950’s under Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program under the provision they not be used for weapons programs.
The lack American presidential of compliance – right up to the present day – with Symington and Glenn may be why the Pentagon fought to restrict release of the unclassified report in federal court, citing perpetual "nondisclosure agreements." In December the DoD insisted that only the Israeli government had final authority over its release, before finally throwing in the towel. (PDF)
On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Congress and AIPAC to thwart a diplomatic deal over NNPT signer Iran’s civilian nuclear program, the report provides interesting reading to Americans tiring of US government corruption on this important foreign aid law and the non-proliferation regime.