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Israel and the Bomb

 Previous treatments of the subject relied heavily on rumors, leaks, and journalistic speculations. But with Israel and the Bomb (Columbia University Press; release date October 21; $27.50) Avner Cohen has forged an interpretive political history that draws on thousands of American and Israeli government documents-most of them recently declassified and never before cited-and more than one hundred interviews with key individuals who played important roles in this story.

Cohen reveals that Israel crossed the nuclear weapons threshold on the eve of the 1967 Six Day War, yet it continues to maintain an ambiguous posture with regard to its nuclear capability to this day.

The book focuses on a two-decade period from about 1950 until 1970, during which David Ben-Gurion's vision of making Israel a nuclear-weapon state was realized. Cohen weaves together the story of the formative years of Israel's nuclear program, from the founding of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission in 1952, to the alliance with France that gave Israel the nuclear technology it needed, to the failure of American intelligence to identify the Dimona Project for what it was in the late 1950s, to the negotiations between President Nixon and Prime Minister Meir that led to the current policy of nuclear opacity.
 
Cohen also analyzes the complex forces that led Israel to conceal its nuclear program-from concerns over Arab reaction and the negative effect of the debate at home to consideration of America's commitment to nonproliferation.
 

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