Britain accused of covering up Israeli nuke deal

At the time Israel is threatening Iran to bring to an end its NUCLEAR PROGRAM under the pretext of maintaining peace in the world, two British lawmakers are accusing the government of covering up the sale of 20 tones of heavy water to Israel for its nuclear programme in the early 1950s, the BBC reported on Saturday.

The latest evidence proves that UK knew that by selling the ingredient to Norway, it would be subsequently sold on to Israel for nuclear weapon, according to BBC News.

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman is asking Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for clarification. "The trouble with this cover-up is that this is not a cover-up, it simply flies in the face of the known facts, now that we have access to previously classified documents."

At the same time, Labor MP Jeremy Corbyn requests an immediate investigation to be held by the Commons' foreign affairs.

"Right back to the late 1950s we were a party to the transfer of nuclear technology to Israel… We were party to the development of a nuclear facility in Israel that could and has been used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Norway was always a smokescreen," Corbyn said.

But Government officials insist on denying any relationship with this deal. And amid calls of launching an inquiry, the Foreign Office has declined to comment.

Although the case had been revealed by the BBC Newsnight since last August, new evidence was uncovered that accuses the UK.

In August, Foreign Office minister Kim Howells did not deny that Britain had negotiated the sale of surplus heavy water to Norway.

The BBC reported that the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) had written to Foreign Office official Donald Cape, who approved the sale. In the letter, the energy authority said too much heavy water had been bought from a Norwegian firm and another company from the country wanted to buy it back and sell it on to Israel.

In August, BBC Newsnight released papers which revealed details of the deal.

But Howells claimed at that time that the UK knew nothing of Norway's intentions or Israel's desire to start a nuclear weapons program.

On the other side, the confidential letters he wrote suggest that the Foreign Office knew Israel had been trying to buy uranium from South Africa.

One letter quoted CIA reports from 1957 and 1958 that say Israel will try and establish a nuclear program when it has the means.

"It has been, and remains our opinion, that Israel wanted an independent supply of plutonium so as to be in a position to make a nuclear weapon if she wished"- a quote from the secret government documents.

United Kingdom | Politics | 2005-12-10 |