A science journal has claimed that radioactive sheep found in Australia could prove that Israel tested nuclear weapons, an action which would be in contravention of international law.
The study, which was published by Princeton University's Science and Global Security journal, claims that Israel conducted an illegal nuclear test on 22 September 1979 near Prince Edward Islands, located in the Indian ocean off the southern tip of Africa. At the time, a "double flash" of light was recorded by an American satellite named Vela 6911, a sign thought to indicate that a nuclear test had taken place. Theories have speculated since that the flash could have been caused by natural phenomena, for example by a meteor shower, but the journal's new study claims to have proof that this was not the case.
The new research, led by Christopher Wright of the Australian Defence Force Academy and Lars Erik de Geer, a former member of the Swedish Defence Research Agency, claims that a few weeks after the mysterious flash, "traces of radioactive Iodine (I-131) had been discovered in several dead sheep in Australia". Samples from the sheep's thyroid glands were then sent for tests in the United States, "but the test's results were never made public," Ynetreports.
It is thought that due to stormy weather at the time the "double flash" was recorded, the fallout from the alleged nuclear test was scattered throughout parts of Australia. The study believes the sheep in question may have eaten some grass in the affected area, causing them to become radioactive. If the journal's theory is correct, this marks the most concrete evidence to date that Israel conducted illegal nuclear testing during the height of the Cold War. That this was done in cooperation with South Africa, at that time ruled by an Apartheid regime, will likely raise further eyebrows.
Israel has long sought to conceal its alleged nuclear capabilities, neither confirming nor denying its possession of nuclear weapons. However, it is widely believed that Israel possesses nuclear WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) and is one of four nuclear-armed countries not recognised by the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. The other three are India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Israel's forays into the nuclear arena came under the spotlight in July when an exposéby the Wall Street Journal(WSJ) revealedthat in 1999 North Korea demanded Israel pay $1 billion in cash in return for halting its nuclear missile sales to Iran. It is believed that Israel refused the offer, instead offering to provide North Korea with food aid. The Israeli government refused requests to comment on the revelations.
Israel has also sought to prevent its regional foes from obtaining nuclear capabilities, most notably Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Syria. In March, Haaretz revealed a 2007 strike on a North Korean made nuclear reactor near the Syrian town of Deir Ez-Zor, the details of which were subsequently censored by Israel for over a decade. Israel has also sought to quell Saudi Arabia's nuclear potential, in July setting outa number of "red lines" to the US administration over planned sales of nuclear reactors to its regional ally. These red lines included that Israel must know all the details of the plan in advance and that it be involved in preliminary consultations on the planned location of the nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia.