Israel detonated nuclear bomb 40 years ago but US covered it up, says report

The explosion was recorded by an American satellite but the Carter administration didn’t want to publicize the event.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel carried out a secret nuclear test exactly 40 years ago and the United States covered it up, Foreign Policy magazine reported in marking the alleged September 22, 1979 event.

According to the article, an American satellite recorded “an unusual double flash” over the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning hours which was recognized as “the unmistakable pattern produced by a nuclear explosion.”

Then-president Jimmy Carter called an emergency meeting in the White House Situation Room the next day. South Africa was considered a suspect because it was known that the government was trying to develop nuclear weapons, but this theory was quickly dismissed as it was known that they weren’t yet at such an advanced stage.

The only country considered capable of such a test at this time was Israel.

However, Carter was in the middle of a reelection campaign. A possible instance of nuclear proliferation was not something he wanted known as it would “tarnish” his legacy of orchestrating the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement and the signing of an arms control agreement with the USSR, according to the article.

So despite allscientific evidence to the contrary, the May 1980 official report on the matter, written by experts appointed by the president’s science adviser, concluded that, “According to our estimation, this was seemingly not a nuclear test.”

Besides the satellite recording data that was identical to many other past nuclear explosions, the scientific evidence included the pinpointing of the location of the explosion off the Prince Edward Islands, which are part of South Africa, although they are located about 1,600 kilometers from its coast.

In addition, it was claimed that radioactive elements had been found in sheep in Australia, some 6,600 kilometers straight across the ocean.

Carter himself hedged in his diary when he wrote the entry for September 22. It reads: “There was an indication of a nuclear test in the area of South Africa – it’s South Africa, or Israel from an ocean-going vessel, or nothing.”

Israel has never publicly acknowledged owning a nuclear arsenal, although foreign reports have assumed that Israel has had a nuclear capability since the 1960s.

But the magazine’s team of scientists, academics, experts in nuclear non-proliferation and former administration officials from the period, as well as testimonies and now-declassified material on the subject are of the opinion that 40 years ago today, Israel tested a hydrogen bomb.