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How the 1979 Nuclear Flash Might Test Us Yet

September 22nd marked the 40th anniversary of a series of nuclear tests conducted off the coast of South Africa. Israel has long been suspected of being responsible for these tests. When these tests occured, the Carter administration was eager to deflect intelligence that confirmed they were nuclear and that suggested Israel was behind them. Since then, more information has been released making it all but impossible to deny Israel's culpability.

Foreign Policy has published six pieces laying out the latest evidence. Included in those six is my own essay, "How the 1979 Flash Might Test Us Yet". In it, I explain the legal, nuclear proliferation, and diplomatic implications of the United State's unwillingness to confirm Israel's violation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which Israel signed and ratified. In fact, it is now illegal for U.S. officials to discuss this matter: They are all subject to a federal gag order. For a variety of reasons that I lay out in my piece, it's in everyone's interest that this order be rescinded.

Sep 22, 2019
AUTHOR: Henry Sokolski

How the 1979 Flash Might Test Us Yet

By Henry Sokolski

Even when awkward facts are generally known—and perhaps especially when they are—getting government authorities to admit to them is difficult. U.S. officials have so far refused to confirm that Israel conducted atmospheric nuclear tests off the South African coast in 1979, and with good cause.

Admitting Israel did so could not only trigger U.S. legal sanctions, but affirm Israeli violation of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, which Israel ratified in 1964. Although it might be distasteful and galling for the U.S. government to now admit that it should have confirmed the Israeli nuclear test long ago, the national-security hazards of not doing so—think Iran and other near-nuclear weapons states violating their nuclear pledges—would be worse.

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