Site Map

THE SAMSON OPTION:  ISRAEL'S NUCLEAR ARSENAL AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY

Chapter 1:  A Secret Agreement

America's most important military secret in 1979 was in orbit, whirling effortlessly around the world every ninety-six minutes, taking uncanny and invaluable reconnaissance photographs of all that lay hundreds of miles below. The satellite, known as KH-11, was an astonishing leap in technology: its images were capable of being digitally relayed to ground stations where they were picked up-in "real time"-for instant analysis by the intelligence community. There would be no more Pearl Harbors.

The first KH-11 had been launched on December 19, 1976, after Jimmy Carter's defeat of President Gerald R. Ford in the November elections. The Carter administration followed Ford's precedent by tightly restricting access to the high- quality imagery: even Great Britain, America's closest ally in the intelligence world, was limited to seeing photographs on a case-by-case basis.

The intensive security system was given a jolt in March 1979, when President Carter decided to provide Israel with KH- 11 photographs. The agreement gave Israel access to any satellite intelligence dealing with troop movements or other potentially threatening activities as deep as one hundred miles inside the borders of neighboring Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. The Israelis were to get the real thing: the raw and spectacular first-generation imagery as captured by the KH-11, some of it three-dimensional-and not the deliberately fuzzed and dulled photographs that were invariably distributed by the American intelligence community to the bureaucracy and to overseas allies in an effort to shield the superb resolution of the KH-11's optics. [1]

It was a significant triumph for the Israeli government, which had been seeking access to the KH-11 since the moment of launch three years before. Jimmy Carter's decision to provide that high-tech imagery was suspected by some American intelligence officials as being a reward for Prime Minister Menachem Begin's successful Camp David summit with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat the year before. These officials understood what many in the White House did not: adding an Israeli dimension to the system was a major commitment-and one that would interfere with the KH-11's ability to collect the intelligence its managers wanted. The KH-11 was the most important advance of its time, explained a former official of the National Security Agency (NSA), the unit responsible for all communications intelligence, and every military and civilian intelligence agency in the government seemed to have an urgent requirement for it. The goal of the KH-11's managers was to carefully plan and "prioritize" the satellite's schedule to get it to the right place at the right time, while avoiding any abrupt shifts in its flight path or any sudden maneuver that would burn excess fuel. With good management, the multimillion-dollar satellite, with its limited fuel supply, would be able to stay longer in orbit, provide more intelligence, and be more cost efficient. Carter's decision to give Israel direct access to the KH-11 completely disrupted the careful scheduling for the satellite's future use; it also meant that some American intelligence agencies were going to have less access to the satellite. "It was an unpopular decision in many, many ways," said the former NSA official.

There were no official protests inside the administration, however: those few who were distressed by the KH-11 agreement understood that any disquiet, or even second-guessing, could jeopardize their own access to such information and thus reduce their status as insiders.

The Israelis, not surprisingly, viewed the KH-11 agreement as a reaffirmation of respect and support from the Carter administration, whose director of central intelligence, retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, had abruptly cut back intelligence liaison with Israel and other friendly nations as part of a restructuring of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Israelis, accustomed to far warmer treatment by Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, saw the men running the Carter administration as naive and anti-Semitic; as men who perhaps did not fully understand how entwined Israel's primary foreign intelligence service, Mossad, had become with the CIA during the Cold War. The 1979 agreement on the KH-11 was no less than the twenty-eighth in a series of formal Israeli-American cooperative ventures in strategic intelligence since the 1950s.

Nothing has ever been officially disclosed about these arrangements, many of which were financed off-the-books-that is, from a special contingency fund personally maintained by the director of central intelligence. Through the 1960s, for example, one of the most sensitive operations in the Agency was code-named KK MOUNTAIN (KK being the CIA's internal digraph, or designation, for messages and documents dealing with Israel) and provided for untold millions in annual cash payments to Mossad. In return, Mossad authorized its agents to act, in essence, as American surrogates throughout North Africa and in such countries as Kenya, Tanzania, and the Congo. Other intelligence agreements with Mossad revolved around the most sensitive of Israeli activities in the Middle East, where American dollars were being used to finance operations in Syria, and inside the Soviet Union, where the CIA's men and women found it difficult to spy. Some of the Soviet activities apparently were financed by regular Agency disbursements and thus cleared through the appropriate CIA congressional oversight committees-but the complex amalgamation of American financing and Israeli operations remains one of the great secrets of the Cold War.

The Israelis had responded to Admiral Turner's 1977 cutback in liaison-in essence, his refusal to pay for the continuing operations in Africa and elsewhere-by sharply reducing their flow of intelligence back to Washington. In the Israeli view, the KH-11 agreement in March 1979 was made inevitable not by the success of Camp David but by the CIA's failure to anticipate the steadily increasing Soviet pressure on Afghanistan in 1978 and the continuing upheavals in Iran. There were large Jewish communities in both nations-many shopkeepers in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, were Jewish-and Mossad's information was far superior to the CIA's. Most galling to the President and his top aides was the CIA's embarrassingly inept reporting on Iran, where Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a U.S. ally of long standing, had been overthrown in February 1979 in a popular uprising-despite a year-long series of upbeat CIA predictions that he would manage to cling to power. [2] The CIA had rejected the Israeli view, provided in a trenchant analysis in 1978 by Uri Lubrani, a former Israeli ambassador to Iran, that the shah would not survive. The CIA had failed the President and forced the American leadership to turn once again to Israeli help in trying to anticipate world events. It was no accident that Lubrani was attached to the Israeli delegation that negotiated the March 1979 KH-11 agreement in Washington.

***

The KH-11 imagery provided Israel-depicting any military activity inside the border of Israel's four neighbors-is known as I&W, for intelligence and warning, and carries the highest classification marking in the American intelligence community. The photographs, once processed, were to be picked up by Israeli military attaches at a special Pentagon office controlled by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the military's joint intelligence service. There was one significant caveat in all this: Israelis were not to be given any intelligence that could help them plan preemptive strikes on their neighbors.

"I set up the rules," one senior American intelligence official recalled. "The system was designed to provide [the Israelis] with everything they could possibly use within [the one-hundred-mile] striking distance. If it was inside Syria or Egypt, they got it all. If it was Iraq, Pakistan, or Libya, they didn't."

The official added, however, that he and his colleagues anticipated from the outset that the Israelis would do everything possible to get around the restrictions of the agreement. One of the immediate Israeli arguments was that the limitations should not apply to the joint enemy of the United States and Israel-the Soviet Union. In the months ahead, there would be constant Israeli pressure for access to satellite intelligence on the Soviet supply lines to Syria and the Soviet involvement in the training of Iraqi combat divisions in western Iraq. Those requests were flatly turned down by the Carter administration.

Nonetheless, Israel was once again an essential ally, and even if it could not get unfettered access to KH-11 imagery, the 1979 agreement did include language permitting Israel to make specific requests for satellite intelligence. Each request would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The package was too much for British intelligence officials, involved Americans recalled, who were described as "mad as hell" about Israel's being provided with the chance to obtain intelligence that they -- World War II allies and fellow members of NATO -- could not get. [3]

Israel, as the British may have suspected, did have a secret agenda in its constant maneuvering for KH-11 access, but that agenda only became clear to a few top Reagan administration policymakers in the fall of 1981. The unraveling began with a bombing raid in Iraq.

***

It was a Sunday afternoon in early June 1981 and Richard V. Allen, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, was taking it easy, sipping iced tea on the sundeck of his suburban Virginia home and shuffling through a week's worth of unread cables, many of them highly classified.

An aide in the White House situation room, which is staffed around the clock, telephoned to report that the Israelis had informed Washington that they had successfully bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, twelve miles southeast of Baghdad. Allen immediately telephoned Reagan, who was spending the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David, in the nearby Catoctin Mountains of Maryland.

The President, he was told, had just boarded his helicopter for the trip back to the White House. "Get him off," Allen ordered. It was, after all, the new administration's first Middle East crisis. The President took the telephone call amid the background thumping of the helicopter blades.

"Mr. President, the Israelis just took out a nuclear reactor in Iraq with F-16s." Israel, aided by long-term, low-interest American credits, had been authorized in 1975 to begin the purchase of seventy-five F-16s "for defensive purposes only."

"What do you know about it?"

"Nothing, sir. I'm waiting for a report."

"Why do you suppose they did it?"

The President let his rhetorical question hang for a moment, Allen recalled, and then added:

"Well. Boys will be boys." [4]

The next morning, according to Allen, there was a meeting of Reagan's high command at which Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger proposed canceling the F-16 aircraft sale. Others at the meeting, including Vice President George Bush and Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, agreed that some sanctions against Israel were essential. Reagan glanced at Allen at one point and with a gesture made it clear he had no intention of taking any such step: "He rolled his eyes at me," Allen said.

The President's private acceptance of the raid was not reflected in the administration's public actions. That afternoon the State Department issued a statement, said to have been cleared by the President and Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., formally condemning the bombing, "which cannot but seriously add to the already tense situation in the area." Nonetheless, recalled Allen, "Reagan was delighted ... very satisfied" by the attack on the reactor at Osirak. "It showed that the Israelis had claws, a sense of strategy, and were able to take care of problems before they developed. Anyway, what did Israel hurt?" Haig similarly was forbearing in private.

The Israeli bombing triggered worldwide protest, and a few days later the White House announced the suspension of a scheduled delivery of four more F-16s, a continuation of the 1975 sale. Two months later, with little fanfare, the administration's real policy emerged: the suspension was lifted and the aircraft were delivered without incident.

***

There was controversy inside Israel, too, over the bombing, which had been debated at the highest levels of the Israeli government since late 1979. Yitzhak Hofi, the director of Mossad, and Major General Yehoshua Saguy, chief of military intelligence, both opposed the attack, primarily because there was no evidence that Iraq was as yet capable of building a bomb. [5] They were joined in futile dissent by Yigael Yadin, the deputy prime minister. At a late-1980 planning session, Saguy continued to inveigh against the mission, arguing that the adverse reaction in Washington would be a more serious national security threat to Israel than was the Iraqi reactor. [6] He took exception to the view that any Israeli military steps to avoid a "second Holocaust" were permissible. Saguy suffered for his dissent; the chief of military intelligence was not told of the mission until June 4, three days before it was scheduled to take place. Saguy responded by renouncing any responsibility for the raid and threatening-briefly-to withhold intelligence.

The mission planners, anxious to avoid international protest, had gone to extremes to mask the operation: it was hoped that Iraq and the rest of the world would be unable to fix blame for the bombing on the unmarked Israeli Air Force planes. The attack had been carried out, as planned, in two minutes, and the likelihood of any detection was slight. But Menachem Begin, buoyed by the success, stunned his colleagues on June 8 by unilaterally announcing the Israeli coup. On the next day, as Israel was besieged with protests, the prime minister defended the operation and vowed that Israel was ready to strike again, if necessary, to prevent an enemy from developing the atomic bomb. "If the nuclear reactor had not been destroyed," Begin said, "another Holocaust would have happened in the history of the Jewish people. There will never be another Holocaust. . . . Never again! Never again!"

Two days later, at a British diplomatic reception, Begin again shocked the senior officials of his government, as well as the intelligence community, by bragging that the Israeli planes also had destroyed a secret facility buried forty meters--130 feet -below the reactor at Osirak that was to serve as the assembly point for the manufacture of Iraqi nuclear bombs. The appalled Israeli officials knew that Begin's remarks were descriptive not of the nonexistent underground weapons facility at Osirak, but of one that did exist in Israel. Begin also told newsmen at the reception that the Iraqi government had hidden the facility from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had inspected the reactor at Osirak in January 1981, under provisions of the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iraq was a party.

Israeli government spokesmen attempted to recoup the next day by telling newsmen that Begin had misspoken; the underground facility was only four meters, not forty, below the surface. The government's worst fears, however, were not publicly realized in the subsequent days and weeks: Israel's biggest secret remained a secret. [7]

By 1981, Israeli scientists and engineers had been manufacturing nuclear bombs for thirteen years at a remote site known as Dimona, located in the barren Negev region south of Jerusalem. Aided by the French, Israel had constructed a nuclear reactor as well as a separate facility-hidden underground-for. the complex process of chemically separating the reactor's most important by-product: weapons-grade plutonium. Begin had visited the underground facility at Dimona at least once since becoming prime minister in 1977 and, Israeli officials told me, had been provided in the days before the raid at Osirak with a detailed memorandum about it. The officials suggested that Begin, in his public remarks, had simply transferred what he had seen and read about Dimona to Osirak. "He confused one with the other," said one Israeli, acknowledging that his interpretation was a charitable one.

Yitzhak Hofi, the Mossad chief, was not as charitable. Two weeks after the Osirak bombing, he gave an unprecedented newspaper interview-Hofi was cited only by title in the article, under the rules of Israeli censorship--to complain about politicians who were compromising secret intelligence. There was no doubt in the Israeli intelligence community about which politician Hofi was criticizing.

***

The secrets of Dimona may have been safe from the Western press, but Dimona itself was facing a much more immediate threat. Israeli officials acknowledged that their intelligence services saw evidence in the days after the June 7 raid that Iraq, obviously seeking revenge, had begun moving some of its Soviet-supplied Scud missiles closer to the Iraq- Jordan border. If the Scuds were to be moved farther west into Jordan, Dimona would be in range of a retaliatory strike by the Iraqis. Unlike the reactor at Osirak, which had not yet begun full-scale operation, Dimona had operated around the clock for eight months a year to produce and reprocess weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons. An Iraqi strike could scatter deadly radioactive contamination for dozens of miles.

Well before the bombing at Osirak, however, Israeli officials had ordered the dome-shaped reactor and underground reprocessing plant at Dimona to cease all operations; both were kept out of service through the end of the year. The Israeli Air Force was also instructed to keep intelligence aircraft in the sky on a twenty-four-hour alert. There is no evidence that Washington saw or understood any of the Israeli defensive actions. A few British intelligence officials immediately suspected that Israel had used the high-resolution KH-11 photography to target Osirak, and they complained to their American counterparts about it. In essence, one involved American recalled, they were saying, "We told you so." The brilliant reputation of the KH-11 system was reinforced, ironically, by Israel's successful raid: high-resolution satellite photographs of the destroyed research reactor were on the desks of Washington decision-makers within a few hours of the mission.

The British were right, as a subsequent highly secret investigation showed: Israel had gotten much valuable intelligence from the KH-11. There was evidence that William J. Casey, Ronald Reagan's director of central intelligence, had inadvertently played a key role.

Casey was an enthusiastic supporter of the imagery-sharing program from the moment he took office, and early in his tenure he ordered that the Israeli liaison officers be provided with a private office near CIA headquarters. The goal, apparently, was to give the Israelis direct access to the American intelligence officers who processed the KH-11 imagery to make sure that all essential intelligence was turned over. Only Israelis, so the reasoning went, would know what was important to Israel. "Casey was prepared to show them a little thigh," one high-ranking American official explained. "But he didn't roll over and play dead for the Israelis."

The CIA director, suddenly confronted after Osirak with serious questions about Israel's abuse of the KH-11 intelligence- sharing agreement, authorized a small, ad hoc committee of experts to review the matter. [8] The group was ordered to operate with the heightened security that always surrounded Israeli intelligence issues.

What the review group found was stunning.

In little more than two years, the Israelis had expanded what had been a limited agreement to the point where they were able to extract virtually any photograph they wished from the system. Most surprisingly, the Israelis had requested and received extensive KH-11 coverage of western Russia, including Moscow. "The Israelis did everything except task [target] the bird," one disturbed military man acknowledges. There was anger at the senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency for what some officials considered their "very lax" management of the liaison agreement: "We set up the system and we didn't bother to monitor what they [the Israelis] were doing," the military man said. [9] William B. Bader, who was serving in 1979 as assistant deputy under secretary of defense for policy, recalled his frustration at knowing that the Israelis were "edging deeper into the overhead" and not knowing how to stop it. "You didn't know where to complain," Bader said. "We knew that these guys [the Israelis] had access that went around the colonels and the deputy assistant secretaries." If a complaint got to the wrong office, he explained, "you might get your head handed back to you."

A former high-ranking NSA official recalled his anger upon subsequently learning early in the Reagan administration that Israeli military officers were permitted to attend Pentagon meetings at which future missions and orbital flight paths for the KH-11 were discussed. "People who knew about it wanted to puke," the former official said. "With the care this [the KH-11] got everywhere else, this blew our minds." However, another senior American intelligence officer, agreeing that "a lot of guys were shocked and dismayed," explained that he was less troubled by the Israeli encroachment: "It was in our national interest to make sure in 1981 that the Israelis were going to survive." This officer depicted the direct access provided to Israel as "a compromise. Israel wanted to make sure that nothing important was passed by. It needed to make sure it got all it needed." The Israeli officer assigned to the Pentagon, the intelligence officer said, was only relaying Israel's intelligence needs to the men in charge of the KH-11 program. The Israeli, in return, was allowed to "stand by" as the KH-11 funneled its real-time imagery back to Washington.

A State Department official who was involved said he and Secretary Haig viewed the arguments about Israeli access as "an intelligence community theological debate. Why have a fight? Give them the pictures. It's a confidence builder." It was a zero-sum issue for the Israelis, this official added: if the Reagan administration refused them access to the KH-11, they would turn to Congress "and get the money [inserted into the foreign aid budget] for a satellite, launching pad, and downlink."

To Richard Allen as well, Israel's manipulation of the KH-11 agreement was no big deal: "I figured they had friends" in the Pentagon who informally had provided the expanded access.

It was finally agreed in the White House after the ad hoc review that the photographs could continue to flow to Israel, but with the initial 1979 restrictions emphatically back in force. "We were going to narrow the aperture," Allen said; Israel would no longer be permitted to get KH-11 imagery of the Soviet Union or any other country outside the hundred-mile limit. Allen personally relayed that message in the fall of 1981 to Ariel Sharon, the controversial and hard-line Israeli general and war hero who had been named defense minister in August by the newly reelected Begin government.

Begin and Sharon were in Washington in September to lobby the White House in support of a far-reaching Israeli plan for a U.S.-Israeli strategic cooperation against a shared enemy: the Soviet Union. An Israeli memorandum for Washington argued that the two nations needed to cooperate "against the threat to peace and security of the region caused by the Soviet Union or Soviet-controlled forces from outside the region introduced into the region." To meet that need, the Israelis sought Reagan's approval for the pre-positioning of American military forces, joint use of airfields, joint planning for military and political contingencies in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and the U.S. financing of a receiving station, or downlink, for the KH-11 satellite imagery, to be located in Tel Aviv.

The Israeli proposals were understandably viewed as excessive and were much watered down during negotiations over the next few months, to Sharon's dismay. Sharon pushed especially hard on the downlink issue, also insisting that the receiving station be "dedicated"-meaning that the encoded signals to and from the satellite to the downlink could be read only by Israel. The United States thus would be in the untenable position of not being able to know what intelligence the Israelis were obtaining from its own satellite system.

It was a preposterous suggestion, and Allen privately told Sharon so. "It was rough," Allen recalled. "He started bitching about American aid being Band-Aids and mustard plaster. He kept on saying, 'You want to give us Band-Aids. If that's what you mean by strategic alliance, we're not interested.'" Allen, a strong supporter of Israel, said he wasn't intimidated: "I saw Sharon as a big tough swashbuckler who did a lot of bellowing."

***

The bombing at Osirak led to no significant changes in the U.S.-Israeli relationship, nor were any serious questions raised about Israel's need for so many KH-11 photographs from so many places-a need that risked a breach in Israel's relations with the United States. Despite the brief flap over Israeli access, there were no lessons learned and KH-11 photographs continued to flow to Israel. Some far-reaching changes were triggered, however, for Israel.

The French, who had also been the chief suppliers of nuclear materials and expertise to Iraq in return for oil, were embarrassed as well as outraged by the Israeli attack. There were a few officials in Paris who sought revenge by breaking long-held vows of silence, and they began to tell about an earlier French nuclear relationship in the Middle East: as secret partners in the making of the Israeli bomb.

Ariel Sharon concluded after the cabinet room meeting that the United States was not a reliable strategic ally. Returned to a clandestine Israeli intelligence agency controlled by his defense ministry, whose operations at the time were not fully understood by Washington, and stood by as it intercepted intelligence on the Middle East and Soviet Union from the most sensitive agencies in America-the kind of intelligence that Israel had been told it would no longer be able to get. An American Jew working in the U.S. intelligence community had volunteered his services to the agency several years earlier; he would soon be put to work spying on his country for Israel.

***

It's almost certain that no one in Ronald Reagan's White House considered Sharon's request for a KH-11 downlink in Tel Aviv in terms of Israel's nuclear ambitions. Similarly, the ad hoc review group that William Casey had set up after Osirak to monitor compliance with the 1979 intelligence-sharing agreement blithely accepted Israel's explanation for its violation of the rules: it had obtained the off-limits KH-11 imagery of the Soviet Union solely to monitor the ongoing supply links between Russia and its allies in Syria and Iraq.

Indeed, there were not many, even in the American intelligence community, who understood in 1981 why Israel had collected satellite imagery of the Soviet Union and why Sharon was so insistent on continued access to that intelligence: Israel was itself a nuclear power that was targeting the Soviet Union with its warheads and missiles.

_______________

Notes:

1. The KH-11 was at the time known to be the most significant advance in outerspace reconnaissance. The key element of the sixty-four-foot-Iong satellite was a downward- looking mirror in front of the camera that rotated from side to side, like a periscope, enabling the satellite to track a single location as it moved across the atmosphere. The result was a stereoscopic image of unusually high quality that could be even further enhanced by computer.

2.  In August 1977, for example, the CIA produced a sixty-page study for the President, entitled "Iran in the 19805," that was predicated on the assumption that the shah would "be an active participant in Iranian life well into the 1980s." Five months later, Carter, to his everlasting embarrassment, publicly toasted Iran at a 1977 New Year's Eve state dinner in Tehran as "an island of stability in a turbulent corner of the world."

3. The British were denied full access, American officials explained, in part because of concern about what turned out to be a major leak inside the British communications intelligence establishment, known as GCHQ (for Government Communications Headquarters). American intelligence officials had learned by the end of the Carter administration that the -existence and capability of the KH-11 system were known to the Soviets, and there were suspicions that someone in a senior position in British intelligence was funneling vast amounts of technical information to Moscow. In the fall of 1982. a former high-level GCHQ employee named Geoffrey A. Prime, of Cheltenham, was arrested on sex charges, and he subsequently confessed to spying for the Soviets. Prime, who was sentenced to a thirty-five-year jail term, was said by British authorities to have had access to "matters of the utmost secrecy." There were British newspaper reports that senior British officials had known of Prime's betrayal for two years before the arrest but had not told their American counterparts. The incident led to inevitable tension between the intelligence services of the two allies. "We were holding back the Brits for a definite reason," one American said. "We knew they had a real problem there and we were very, very sensitive about what we gave them." The stern American position was more than a little offset by the fact that a junior CIA clerk named William T. Kampiles had been sentenced to forty years in jail in 1978 after his conviction for the sale of a top--secret KH-11 technical manual to the Soviets. Kampiles received $3,000 for the manual, which included no KH-11 photographs-and thus presumably did not reveal just how good the satellite's optics could be. The trial of Kampiles raised a number of embarrassing questions about security at CIA headquarters, where Kampiles worked; at least sixteen other KH-11 technical manuals were missing, and there was testimony to the effect that Kampiles-and others, if they wished- ere able to leave the premises without any security check.

4.  Moments later, Allen added, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., who had competed from inauguration day with all senior officials for influence in the administration, telephoned and excitedly demanded to know where the then-airborne President was: "Dick, I've got to talk to him right away." Allen asked why. "I've just got to talk to him." "Is it about the reactor?" Haig said yes. Allen said he was too late: he had just briefed Reagan. "What?" exclaimed Haig. "How did you find out?" Allen laughed at the recollection and added that Haig wouldn't know it, but he had wasted his time in rushing to tell Reagan: "The fact is you couldn't score brownie points that way. Ronald Reagan never remembered who told him first."

5.  That issue also was hotly debated inside the American intelligence community, whose experts on nonproliferation did not have "complete information"-as one involved official put it-about Iraq's capabilities. After the Israeli strike, the American experts concluded that Israel had bombed only one of two major targets at the site; it had destroyed the reactor as planned but left the nearby reprocessing plant untouched. It was in the reprocessing facility that plutonium could be chemically recovered from spent reactor fuel rods.

6.  Many in the Israeli military also were glad to see Iraq sink hundreds of millions of dollars into the reactor rather than purchasing more tanks, planes, and other conventional arms.

7.  Some American intelligence analysts instantly understood that Begin had made a mistake, but their reports were highly classified and never reached the public.

8.  Casey had made his first secret trip to Israel as CIA director a few months earlier and, according to Israelis, put in motion an ambitious list of joint intelligence opera tions aimed at rolling back Communism-actions, Casey believed, that had all but ceased during the Caner years. These included renewed espionage activities inside the Soviet Union, aid for the anti-Communist Solidarity movement in Poland, and economic and military support-in violation of a congressional ban-for Jonas Savimbi's UNITA resistance movement in Angola. Casey also insisted upon and apparently received Israeli promises of support for what emerged in the early 1980s as one of his near-obsessions-covert aid to the anti-Communist Renamo insurgency in Mozambique. (A 1988 State Department study placed the number of civilians murdered by Renamo at more than 100,000, with an estimated one million Mozambicans forced into refugee status.) Despite the successful visit, Casey was embarrassed and rankled by the fact that his newfound colleagues in Israel had not seen fit to inform him in advance of the planned attack on Osirak. His CIA thus had failed to anticipate the first serious foreign policy crisis in the Reagan administration.

9.  Adding to the dismay, surely, was the fact that President Carter, as a security measure, had, shortly after taking office, ordered a freeze on the number of codework clearances in the government. The freeze led to enormous complications throughout the intelligence world, because many analysts were not permitted access to the information-such as that collected by the KH-11-they needed to do their job.

Go to Next Page