The Testimony of the American Witness
An Atomic Phantom

Yediot Ahronot
November 25, 1999
By Michal Goldberg

The claim: Israel circulates rumors about its nuclear weapons. The goal: to prove that Vanunu did not cause significant damage

"A large portion of the rumors concerning Israel's nuclear weapons is circulated by representatives of the Israeli government" - this was argued bin the Vanunu trial by George Keuster, a professor at Maryland University, who was for years an adviser to the U.S. Defense and State Departments and a member of different committees on the nuclear issue.

Keuster was brought to the trial as a witness for the defense. By means of his testimony, Vanunu's lawyers hoped to prove, that the secrets that he had revealed did not cause significant damage, since the facts were already known, from other sources.

In his testimony, Keuster mentioned publications in newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post about the Dimona reactor and news items which contained descriptions of equipment for nuclear production that disappeared from Pennsylvania and which "apparently made its way to Israel." The sources for these publications, he said, were varied: British, French and investigators and other sources.

The prosecutor, the late Adv. Uzi Hason, pressured the witness and asked: "But those are not the official positions of the Israeli government or any Israeli official?" Keuster replied: "Well, when Israeli representatives order from the U.S.A. F4S planes (a special model of the Phantom), and ask to have the planes equipped for carrying nuclear weapons, that does concern official representatives of the Israeli government..."

Elsewhere in his testimony, Keuster addressed the number of nuclear bombs that he estimates that Israel possesses. "The most serious estimate talks about 40 to 50 atom bombs, contrary to the exaggerated publications in the Sunday Times. That is the quantity that Israel needs from the strategic viewpoint. I do not see more than 50 Arab cities that could serve as targets for a nuclear strike, in the event of an Israeli defeat in the battle field."