Secret GAO Report: US Investigations of Israeli Weapons Grade Uranium Diversions ‘Inadequate’
WASHINGTON, May 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A declassified Government Accountability Office report entitled “Nuclear Diversion in the U.S.? 13 Years of Contradiction and Confusion” reveals serious flaws hampering investigations into diversions of US weapons grade uranium to Israel. The report and related correspondence totaling 62 pages released on May 6, 2010 are now publicly available for download at: http://www.irmep.org/co1162251.pdf.
The report examines the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) between 1957 and 1967 when it received over 22 tons of Uranium-235 — the key material used to fabricate nuclear weapons. NUMEC’s founder and President Zalman M. Shapiro was a sales agent for the Defense Ministry of Israel in the US and head of a local Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) chapter. In the early 1960s the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began documenting suspicious lapses in security at NUMEC’s plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania. In 1965 an AEC audit found NUMEC could no longer account for over 200 pounds of highly enriched uranium. Subsequent estimates spiraled to almost 600 pounds.
Congress tasked GAO to investigate four allegations about what happened to the uranium. The first was that “the material was illegally diverted to Israel by NUMEC management for use in nuclear weapons.” The second was “the material was diverted to Israel by NUMEC management with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).” The final two theories explored by GAO were that “the material was diverted to Israel with the acquiescence of the United States Government” and that “there has been a cover-up of the NUMEC incident by the United States Government.”
GAO solicited all available information developed by the CIA, FBI, Department of Energy and AEC but was “continually denied necessary reports and documentation…by the CIA and FBI.” The GAO report blasts the FBI’s intermittent investigations: “The FBI, which had the responsibility and authority to investigate the alleged incident, did not focus on the question of a possible nuclear diversion until May 1976 — nearly 11 years later. Initially, the FBI declined DOE’s request to conduct an investigation of the diversion possibility even though they are required to conduct such investigations under the Atomic Energy Act…”
The GAO report is even more critical of the CIA. “From interviews with a former CIA official and with former and current officials and staff of DOE and the FBI we concluded that the CIA did not fully cooperate with DOE or the FBI in attempting to resolve the NUMEC matter.” The GAO report concludes: “We believe a timely, concerted effort on the part of these three agencies would have greatly aided and possibly solved the NUMEC diversion questions, if they desired to do so.”
As the Obama administration works with other Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatories moving toward creating a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, diversions are a flashpoint issue according to research director Grant F. Smith. “Despite years of assurances, US taxpayers still haven’t received an official tally of all weapons grade uranium and dual use technologies illegally diverted to Israel. This declassified GAO report reveals a breakdown of rule of law in America that is undermining world peace.”
The Israel Lobby Archive, http://IRmep.org/ila is a unit of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington. The Archive digitizes declassified documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act filings with law enforcement, economic, diplomatic and intelligence agencies. IRmep is a Washington-based nonprofit that studies U.S. Middle East policy formulation.
SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy