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Negev Nuclear Research Center Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Negev Nuclear Research Center Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

Report: Argentina sold uranium powder to Israel

Foreign Policy magazine reveals how in 1964 Israel bought 80-100 tons of yellowcake – necessary for atomic bomb – but kept deal secret from US

Published: 07.02.13, 21:14 / Israel News

A comprehensive article released by the Foreign Policy magazine alleged that Israel struck a deal with Argentina in the 1960s to purchase between 80 to 100 tons of yellowcake – uranium powder – necessary for the production of a nuclear bomb.


The American magazine noted that this latest discovery solves the enigma of how Israel acquired the material to turn its burgeoning nuclear program military-grade.


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The article, which cited 42 documents recently de-classified by the United States, recounted the beginning of Israel's hazy nuclear project, starting with the French aid in building the Dimona reactor, formally known as the Negev Nuclear Research Center.


But though France initially agreed to supply Israel with nuclear fuel, a new cabinet headed by Charles de-Gaulle marked a change in French foreign affairs and Israeli ties, and by 1963, with the nuclear reactor nearly finished, France imposed severe restrictions on uranium supply to Dimona.


According to Foreign Relations, Israel attempted to produce its own uranium from phosphates, but the high costs involved convinced Israeli officials a foreign source must be sought.


And indeed, the article described, in 1964 the Canadian intelligence agency found out that the Argentinean government was preparing an Israel-bound shipment of between 80 to 100 tons of yellowcake, a uranium concentrate powder and an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores.


Canada shared the data with Britain, which passed it on to the CIA. Skeptical at first, the Americans pursued the lead and inquiries made by the Buenos Aires American embassy personnel found local sources who confirmed the account.


According to the article, the United States confronted Argentina with the data, and the latter admitted a deal has been struck with Israel to supply it with the uranium powder the previous year.



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