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CIA declassifies report on Israel’s nukes

The 1960 report defends Israel's nuclear ambitions, offers guidance on handling today's nuclear-hopefuls.

North Koreans rally in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang in protest of the UN Security Council's threat of sanctions in response to North Korea's nuclear test in May. The December 1960 intelligence analysis of Israel's nuclear capabilities, which still has elements redacted, is interesting in today's context as the Obama administration confronts the nuclear weapon ambitions of North Korea and Iran.

APTN/AP

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"We do not believe that Israel will embark on the development of nuclear weapons with the aim of actually starting a nuclear war," reads the declassified 48-year-old CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate.

The estimate, publicly released June 5 by George Washington University's National Security Archives, continues, "Possession of a nuclear weapon capability, or even the prospect of achieving it, would clearly give Israel a greater sense of security, self-confidence and assertiveness."

"In any public announcement concerning their nuclear reactor program, the Israelis would almost certainly stress the peaceful nature of their efforts, but they would also, as time goes on, make plain that henceforth Israel is a power to be accorded more respect than either its friends or its enemies have hitherto given it," reads the estimate.

The December 1960 intelligence analysis, which still has elements redacted, is interesting in today's context as the Obama administration confronts the nuclear weapon ambitions of North Korea and Iran.

Does the understanding of why a friendly country seeks a nuclear weapon apply when the analysis involves two countries that are potential U.S. enemies? No, is the safe bet when public reaction is considered.

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