The US Knew Of 1979 Israeli-South African nuclear test behind mysterious ‘flash'(and did nothing)
JERUSALEM POST – New documents published Thursday revealed the US suspected that Israel and South Africa conducted a joint nuclear test in 1979.
The documents were released from the estate of Gerard Smith, the former ambassador and special advisor to prevent nuclear proliferation in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, and were published in an article by two US researchers – Avner Cohen and Bill Burr.
In their article, Dr. Anselm Israeli Yaron was named as a possible source of information to the US about Israel’s nuclear capability, in his conversations with an American colleague who was investigating suspicious atmospheric data on behalf of Carter’s administration.
On September 22, 1979 an American spy satellite “Vela” registered a powerful flash over the Indian Ocean, several hundred miles off the coast of South Africa. The flash and its after effects were also recorded by monitoring stations elsewhere in the world.
Following the mysterious incident, suspicions arose within the US government that the flash was the result of a joint nuclear test by Israel and South Africa. Both nations resolutely denied the claim, and have held this position until today.
US suspicions were based on the already established nuclear cooperation between Israel and South Africa during the 1970s, which included sharing knowledge, materials and scientists.
However, there were experts who argued that the flash was the result of a climatic phenomenon, and not a nuclear test.
To try and get to the bottom of the matter, the Carter administration appointed Professor Jack Ruina from MIT to head up a team of experts charged with uncovering the truth.
Ruina had mentored Israeli Professor Yaron, who had taken a sabbatical at MIT. Yaron was involved in building Israel’s surface-to-surface “Jericho” missile, which was based on a rocket Israel received from France in the 1960s.
“Dr. Yaron enjoyed talking openly about his defense experience,” wrote Cohen and Burr. “He spoke to Ruina about the missile program, and his knowledge of Israel’s nuclear capabilities.” The article further states that when Ruina delivered a lecture at MIT on the non-confidential findings of his committee, saying that the flash was possibly not the result of a nuclear test, Yaron called out: “Don’t be so sure.”
However, Ruina’s committee was split, and could not reach a unanimous conclusion. Later it was claimed that government officials interfered in its deliberations, and tipped the report against the opinion of a joint test by Israel and South Africa.
The article quoted Gerard Smith, who died in 1994: “I was never able to break free from the thought that (the events of September 22) was a joint operation between Israel and South Africa.”
Despite the swirling allegations and suspicions, the mystery of the flash remained unsolved.
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