In 1965, over 200 pounds of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium went missing from the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania. Circumstantial evidence and popular lore suggested that the material had been clandestinely diverted to Israel for use in its nuclear weapons program, either with or without the acquiescence of the U.S. Government.
A secret 1978 review of the episode (pdf) that was performed for Congress by the General Accounting Office (as it was then known) has recently been declassified and released. But instead of resolving the mystery of the missing uranium, it only highlights it.
The Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cooperated fully with the GAO, but the CIA and the FBI did not. “GAO was continually denied necessary reports and documentation on the alleged incident by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation…. The lack of access to CIA and FBI documents made it impossible for GAO to corroborate or check all information it obtained,” the GAO report said.
“…. Agents from the FBI involved in the current investigation told GAO that while there exists circumstantial information which could lead an individual to conclude that a diversion occurred, there is no substantive proof of a diversion…,” the GAO said.
The GAO report was obtained by the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, a group critical of pro-Israel advocacy in the U.S. See “Nuclear Diversion in the U.S.? 13 Years of Contradiction and Confusion,” U.S. General Accounting Office report EMD-79-8, December 18, 1978.
OK. Now let’s go to our friends at IRMEP:
In 1977 chair of the House of Representatives subcommittee on Energy and Power John D. Dingell requested an investigation to determine whether weapons grade uranium had been illegally diverted from the US into a clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program.
In the early 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began documenting suspicious lapses in security at the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) in Pennsylvania. In 1965 an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) audit found that NUMEC could no longer account for 220 pounds of highly enriched uranium. The amount of missing uranium could “make at least four or five nuclear weapons” according to the report. In 1966 the FBI opened an investigation code-named DIVERT and began monitoring NUMEC’s management and large numbers of Israeli visitors. On Sept. 10, 1968, four Israelis visited NUMEC’s president to "discuss thermoelectric devices with [NUMEC boss Zalman] Shapiro," according to correspondence from NUMEC’s security manager seeking official AEC consent for an Israeli visit. Among the approved visitors was [former Israeli army bigwig] Rafael Eitan. After Eitan’s visit, 587 pounds of highly enriched uranium was classified as missing.
The GAO investigation was chartered to discover whether:
1. “The material was illegally diverted to Israel by NUMEC management for use in nuclear weapons.”
2. “The material was diverted to Israel by NUMEC management with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”
3. “The material was diverted to Israel with the acquiescence of the United States Government.”
4. GAO inquired whether “there has been a cover-up of the NUMEC incident by the United States Government.” The GAO officially concluded that the federal efforts to resolve the matter were “less than adequate.” GAO charged the FBI “which had the responsibility and authority to investigate the alleged incident, did not focus on the question of a possible nuclear diversion until May 1976—nearly 11 years later.”…