Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
World: Middle East
Book breaks Israel's nuclear taboo
Cohen claims Israel put two nuclear devices on alert in 1967
By Middle East analyst, Roger Hardy
When Israeli scholar Avner Cohen tried to publish some of his work in Israel, he ran up against a brick wall of military censorship. So he has published his book in New York, and even plans to start up a website this week to make available some of the documents he has discovered.
Part of the story has been known or suspected for some time. But Cohen has some revelations - notably that on the eve of the June War of 1967, Israel put two nuclear devices on alert.
Cohen thinks that when Israel started building a nuclear reactor - with French help - in the late 1950s, President Eisenhower probably knew but chose to do nothing.
The only American president who tried to act was Kennedy, who was deeply concerned about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Kennedy made the Israeli leader Ben-Gurion agree to inspections, but nothing came of them.
Cohen insists he has done nothing to harm Israel's security. He says he is motivated not by the zeal of the anti-nuclear campaigner, but by a passion for openness, and a belief that it is time for Israel to re-think its nuclear strategy.
But the Israeli government is unlikely to welcome this latest attempt to break the nuclear taboo.