Israel and the Bomb

Avner Cohen

Columbia University Press

Israel and the Bomb

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Pub Date: September 1999

ISBN: 9780231104838

470 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $42.00£35.00

Pub Date: September 1998

ISBN: 9780231104821

470 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $120.00£100.00

Pub Date: September 1998

ISBN: 9780231500098

470 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $41.99£35.00

Israel and the Bomb

Avner Cohen

Columbia University Press

Until now, there has been no detailed account of Israel's nuclear history. Previous treatments of the subject relied heavily on rumors, leaks, and journalistic speculations. But with Israel and the Bomb, Avner Cohen has forged an interpretive political history that draws on thousands of American and Israeli government documents—most of them recently declassified and never before cited—and more than one hundred interviews with key individuals who played important roles in this story. Cohen reveals that Israel crossed the nuclear weapons threshold on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War, yet it remains ambiguous about its nuclear capability to this day. What made this posture of "opacity" possible, and how did it evolve?

Cohen focuses on a two-decade period from about 1950 until 1970, during which David Ben-Gurion's vision of making Israel a nuclear-weapon state was realized. He weaves together the story of the formative years of Israel's nuclear program, from the founding of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission in 1952, to the alliance with France that gave Israel the sophisticated technology it needed, to the failure of American intelligence to identify the Dimona Project for what it was, to the negotiations between President Nixon and Prime Minister Meir that led to the current policy of secrecy. Cohen also analyzes the complex reasons Israel concealed its nuclear program—from concerns over Arab reaction and the negative effect of the debate at home to consideration of America's commitment to nonproliferation.

Israel and the Bomb highlights the key questions and the many potent issues surrounding Israel's nuclear history. This book will be a critical resource for students of nuclear proliferation, Middle East politics, Israeli history, and American-Israeli relations, as well as a revelation for general readers.

A scholarly treatise that includes over 1,200 footnotes, yet reads like a novel.... [Cohen] analyzes in rich detail how this policy of 'nuclear opacity' evolved and what made it possible.

Lawrence Kolb, New York Times Book Review

Israel and the Bomb should be required reading for those interested in nuclear issues in general and in the complexities of the American-Israeli relationship in particular. For American decision makers, the book should serve as an invaluable case-study of how not to deal with future instances of nuclear proliferation

Michael Rubner, Middle East Policy

This important volume deserves the attention of Middle East scholars and students of foreign policy, nuclear proliferation, and Israeli politics.

A.R. Norton, Choice

Cohen's work will necessitate the rewriting of Israel's history, wars, international relations, domestic political crises, economy, psychology, national pride--everything will have to be viewed in a different light.

Tom Segev, Ha'aretz

For anyone interested in the never-ending struggles in the Middle East and life on the edge in the nuclear age, this book is a must-read.

Miami Herald

A compelling and comprehensive account of the development of what he calls Israel's doctrine of 'nuclear opacity.'

Paul C. Warnke, former Assistant Secretary of Defense

Cohen's book hits nations sensitivity.

Dan Ephron, Washington Times

... Avner Cohen's book stands in a class of its own. It is the first scholarly study of the history of this project, it is richly documented, and it unveils some of the major mysteries surrounding events by tapping a large body of previously untouched sources.... It can only be assumed that when this national mood of 'nuclear' ignorance changes, Cohen's book will serve as a solid foundation for this debate.

Uri Bar-Joseph, Jewish History

This impeccably documented history of the first two decades of the Israeli nuclear program illuminates the complex domestic and international forces that shaped the activity and gives the reader fascinating insight into the thinking of Israeli, French, and U.S. leaders on the uniquely sensitive subject that only a few participants were fully aware of at the time.

Spurgeon Keeny, President and Executive Director, The Arms Control Association

This is an extraordinarily important book. Cohen has produced an amazing piece of historical scholarship on a subject deliberately shrouded in clouds of misdirection, for legitimate raisons d'etat, by both Israeli and American governments.

Samuel W. Lewis, U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1977-1985)

Cohen lays out as fully as now possible the intricate interplay of domestic politics in Tel Aviv/Jerusalem, Paris, and Washington with the diplomatic interaction of the three countries, formal and informal, that shaped the path of Israel's nuclear program. An unmatched and indispensable contribution to understanding our nuclear age, the lessons of Israel and the Bomb have renewed salience in the context of the movement of more nations into the nuclear club.

Carl Kaysen, former deputy national security advisor to JFK

Cohen has produced another rich historical narrative that functions as a readily accessible page-turner.

Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs
1. Men and Ethos
2. Before the Beginning
3. The Beginning
4. The Road to Dimona
5. Dimona Revealed
6. Kennedy and the Israeli Project
7. The Battle of Dimona
8. Debate at Home
9. Kennedy and Eshkol Strike a Deal
10. The Dimona Visits (1964-1967)
11. Ambiguity Born
12. Growing Pains
13. The Arabs and Dimona
14. The Six-Day War
15. Toward Opacity
16. The Battle Over the NPT
17. Opacity Takes Hold

About the Author

Avner Cohen is a senior research fellow at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He has taught and researched in universities in Israel and the United States and has published numerous articles on subjects as diverse as skepticism, political theory, nuclear ethics, nuclear proliferation, and Israeli history. He is the coeditor of Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity and The Institution of Philosophy.