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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 18:38 GMT
Statement from the Foreign Office

In response to Newsnight's report on the sale of UK plutonium to Israel while Harold Wilson was prime minister.

READ REPORT: SECRET SALE OF UK PLUTONIUM TO ISRAEL

Statement from the Foreign Office - 9th March 2006

We reject any suggestion that Dr Howells has misled the IAEA, or Sir Menzies Campbell when he wrote to him last year.

We are not aware of any request from the IAEA for information regarding any supplies of plutonium, uranium or lithium. We will of course respond to any request the IAEA makes in this regard.

The papers clearly show that in 1958 the UK government agreed a transfer back to Norway control of 25 tons of heavy water, 11.5 tons of which was in the UK at the time.

While the UK government was aware that Norway planned to sell the heavy water to the Israeli Atomic Energy Organisation, the UK was not a party to the sale.

In 1961, due to increasing concern about its end use, the UK government pressed the Norwegian government to request Israel to return the 1958 consignment of heavy water. In addition, the then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, personally made this point to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ben Gurion.

Throughout the period in question, all export licensing of materials associated with civil nuclear programmes went through stringent checks across Whitehall. This is still HMG's policy.


SEE ALSO:
Secret sale of UK plutonium to Israel
09 Mar 06 |  Newsnight Home


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