THE SAMSON OPTION: ISRAEL'S NUCLEAR ARSENAL AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
This is a book about how Israel became a nuclear power in secret. It also tells how that secret was shared, sanctioned, and, at times, willfully ignored by the top political and military officials of the United States since the Eisenhower years.
In it, you will find many senior American officials being quoted -- most of them for the first time -- about what they knew and when they knew it. These officials spoke to me not because of animosity toward the Israeli government, but because they realized the hypocrisy of the American policy of publicly pretending that Israel's nuclear arsenal does not exist. That policy remains in effect as this is written.
I chose not to go to Israel while doing research for this book. For one thing, those Israelis who were willing to talk to me were far more accessible and open when interviewed in Washington, New York, or, in some cases, Europe. Furthermore, Israel subjects all journalists, domestic and foreign, to censorship. Under Israeli rules, all material produced by journalists in Israel must be submitted to military censors, who have the right to make changes and deletions if they perceive a threat to Israeli national security. I could not, for obvious reasons, submit to Israeli censorship. Those in the past who have broken the rules have been refused reentry to Israel.
Those Israelis who talked were not critics of Israel's nuclear capability, nor would they feel secure without the bomb. They spoke because they believe that a full and open discussion of the Israeli nuclear arsenal -- and of the consequences of its deployment -- is essential in a democratic society.
SEYMOUR M. HERSH