On Eve of Aid Boost, Researcher |Flags Israel’s ‘Clandestine’ Nukes

     WASHINGTON (CN) – U.S. aid to Israel violates a long-standing ban on giving foreign aid to clandestine nuclear powers, the director of a Middle East policy nonprofit claims in a federal complaint.
     Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, says the United States has given Israel an estimated $234 billion in foreign aid since Congress passed the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
     Discussing his Aug. 8 lawsuit in an interview, Smith said the pro se litigation has been 10 years in the making.
     Though Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Smith noted that it is a known nuclear power and recipient of U.S. aid.
     The U.S. has had a long-standing policy of keeping mum on the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, a poorly kept secret that successive U.S. administrations since Gerald Ford have refused to publicly acknowledge.
     Smith’s lawsuit comes on the eve of a deal that would boost U.S. aid to the country by between $1 billion and $2 billion per year over a decade. Israel already gets $3 billion a year in U.S. aid.
     In addition to the United States and President Barack Obama, the complaint names as defendants Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the secretaries of the Treasury, Energy and Commerce Departments.
     “Defendants have collectively engaged in a violation of administrative procedure and the Take Care Clause by unlawful failure to act upon facts long in their possession while prohibiting the release of official government information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, particularly ongoing illicit transfers of nuclear weapons material and technology from the U.S. to Israel,” the 33-page complaint states.
     To sustain a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” on Israel’s weapons program, Smith says the government uses improper classification and threatens federal employees and researchers with prosecution, fines and imprisonment.
     The gag is driven, according to the complaint, by a Department of Energy directive known as WNP-136, Foreign Nuclear Capabilities.
     Smith says his digging under the Freedom of Information Act brought a version of the document to light that was “nearly 90 percent redacted.”
     “This is an Energy Department directive that demands imprisonment for any federal official or contractor who even mentions that Israel might have a nuclear weapons program,” Smith said in an interview.
     “This amounts to a law, a gag order on this information,” the Washington man added. “And we’re asking them to really take away this entire unlawful fulcrum called ambiguity and let the implications and chips, in terms of the aid that it enables, fall where they may.”
     In the complaint, Smith says foreign aid to Israel violates two amendments of the 1961 Foreign Aid Act, known as the Symington and Glenn amendments, which ban aid to clandestine nuclear powers.
     “Federal agencies such as the Department of Treasury, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Commerce have acted unlawfully and in concert to help thwart Symington & Glenn,” the complaint states.
     The Glenn amendment came about, Smith noted, after former Sen. John Glenn met with the CIA about diversion from U.S. nuclear contractor NUMEC to Israel’s nuclear program.
     Hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium disappeared from the facility, traces of which were later found outside of Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility.
     “It was a contractor that lost more weapons grade uranium than any other U.S. processing facility,” Smith said in an interview. Israeli intelligence agency Lakam sent Israeli agents tasked with sourcing foreign nuclear material on repeated visits to the facility, he added.
     Glenn also attended a CIA briefing about this matter, Smith noted.
     “He was concerned that the U.S. was being victimized and an unwilling participant in this nuclear weapons development program. He received assurances from the CIA they were not doing any clandestine operation, but he wanted to, along with [Stuart] Symington, ensure the U.S. was not rewarding any sort of proliferation initiatives,” Smith said.
     Smith gleaned that information from documents he obtained during an extensive FOIA battle with the government, he said.
     In an interview, Smith noted that the United States has three options: “issue a waiver, as Symington and Glenn intended; change the law and just say none of this applies to Israel; or cut off the aid.”
     “We would be most in favor of option three,” Smith added.
     He said the Symington and Glenn amendments were intended “to prevent Americans from being forced to subsidize a clandestine nuclear weapons program.”
     In addition to halting Israel’s aid intake, Smith also wants any aid given to Israel since 1978 “clawed back for disgorgement.”
     A federal judge should also declare the policy of “nuclear ambiguity” unlawful, according to the complaint, and issue an order that requires U.S. presidents to uphold the Symington and Glenn Amendments.
     The CIA, White House, State Department and Treasury Department each refused to comment on the lawsuit.
     The White House and the Energy Department have not returned emails seeking comment.

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