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The Samson Option by Seymour Hersh

THE
SAMSON
OPTION
Israel's Nuclear Arsenal
and American Foreign Policy
Seymour M. Hersh
Random House New York

For Elizabeth, Matthew, Melissa, and Joshua

Contents

Author's Note

1. A Secret Agreement
2. The Scientist
3. The French Connection
4. First Knowledge
5. Internal Wars
6. Going Public
7. Dual Loyalty
8. A Presidential Struggle
9. Years of Pressure
10. The Samson Option
11. Playing the Game
12. The Ambassador
13. An Israeli Decision
14. A Presidential Gift
15. The Tunnel
16. Prelude to War
17. Nuclear Blackmail
18. Injustice
19. The Carter Malaise
20. An Israeli Test
21. Israel's Nuclear Spy
22. An Israeli Asset

Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author's Note

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

August 1991
Washington, D.C.

Notes
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