Skip to comments.DEFENSE: David's Sling Israel's Nuclear Claymore Mine
Posted on 07/13/2002 8:41:56 AM PDT by freeforall
DEFENSE: David's SlingIsrael's Nuclear Claymore Mine
By Harold Hough Worldwide Exclusive to THE OBJECTIVE AMERICAN
IN INTELLIGENCE operations, few things are what they seem. That is doubly true for the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of Mordichai Vannunu in Rome in 1986. The consensus was that Israel ordered the kidnapping to keep Vannunu from telling the world that Israel was a nuclear power and to send a strong message to other Israeli nuclear experts to keep quiet.
That story is far from the truth. Although the general public didn't know that Israel was a nuclear power, it had been common knowledge in the defense and intelligence fields since the early 1970s. (In fact, the author was made aware of the fact as a college student in 1973 at a foreign affairs conference.) Nor was the kidnapping arranged to stop Vannunu from telling how the Israelis produced nuclear material. That information was available to anyone with a degree in nuclear physics.
In fact, the kidnapping was a desperate attempt to hide from the world the fact that the Israelis had developed nuclear landmines for deployment on the Golan Heights, and that they had built a new type of nuclear weapon, the nuclear claymore, a weapon that could direct a lethal burst of radiation in one direction without harming people behind it.
The nuclear claymore (also called a directional neutron bomb) was developed by the United States in the mid 1960s under the direction of Dr. Sam Cohen, the Father of the Neutron Bomb. Although it was successfully tested, the decision was made by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to shelve the project. McNamara, who was anti-nuclear, felt that it was too clean and would make the use of nuclear weapons more likely.
How It Works The key to forcing the radiation in one direction relies on the nuclear principle of converting high energy neutrons into gamma radiation by bombarding nitrogen 14. This phenomena, called nitrogen capture, creates a more energetic gamma radiation than that caused by the explosion. This higher energy radiation travels two to four times as far as high energy neutrons (depending on conditions). The result is an asymmetric envelope of lethal radiation that reaches two to four times as far in one direction as in other directions. This asymmetry is accentuated by using neutron reflectors in the same way a flashlight uses silvered reflectors to direct the light into a narrow beam. The neutron reflectors can reduce the amount of neutron radiation in unwanted directions and direct more of the flux towards the nitrogen compound.
What Western intelligence agencies learned from the Vannunu information was that the Israeli neutron bomb landmine was a modern nuclear weapon that could kill in one direction without causing much damage in other directions.
EMP and Skyshine Still in Israel's inventory, the directional neutron bomb offers other advantages because it uses high energy gamma rays.
The gamma rays emitted will collide with electrons in the air and create a sheath of electric current. This is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). It can burn out computers and other electrical components in a small area in front of the blast.
Gamma rays also make personal protection more difficult. Since neutron radiation travels in a straight line, the only protection needed is a dense material between the blast and the person. Consequently, hiding behind an armored vehicle or a hill during the explosion of a conventional neutron bomb will dramatically cut the dose of radiation. Gamma radiation, however, bounces off molecules of oxygen or nitrogen in the air and scatters in many directions. This principle, called skyshine means gamma radiation will come at soldiers from many angles, not just directly from the blast. The only effective protection against this form of radiation is to completely envelop the soldier in a radiation shield.
Well Kept Secret Until the Vannunu affair, the worlds intelligence services were unaware that Israel had gone ahead with development of a nuclear claymore. Vannunu had left Israel with about 60 photographs of Israels nuclear weapons facility south of Dimona. Many of the photos merely showed various stages in the production of plutonium. They provided proof to the nuclear community that Israel was actually involved in the production of nuclear weapons.
What surprised many in the intelligence community, and worried the Israelis, was photographs of the area where the nuclear landmines were being assembled. Although most of the information wasn't of any interest to the regular readers of the London's Sunday Times, which was printing the story, Israel knew that Vannunu would be debriefed by British and American intelligence. Not only would the West learn that Israel had built nuclear landmines, it would also learn how much technology had been illegally acquired from the American directional neutron bomb project in the 1960s. This would be further evidence of espionage against an "ally" and might lead the US to discover how nuclear information was being spirited out of the US and into Israel.
In order to find out how much Vannunu had told the West, and whether there were others at Dimona who were cooperating, Israel felt it had no other option but to kidnap the Israeli technician and interrogate him.
Doin' What Came Naturally Although Western intelligence was surprised at the degree of interest Israel had shown in smaller, cleaner, tactical nuclear weapons, it was a natural move for the small nation.
Israeli has focused much of its research on such thermonuclear weapons due to the tiny size of the nation and the likelihood that any conflict would be either on its own territory or nearby. The neutron bomb is a natural because it is small and produces most of its energy from the clean fusion of hydrogen isotopes rather than the fission of uranium and plutonium, which causes more long lasting radioactivity. However, a directional neutron weapon is even better because Israeli forces could remain nearby instead of pulling back in order to avoid damage from the blast. According to nuclear experts, these landmines are so clean that they are to be placed near Israeli settlements like Kibbutz Ein Zivan.
The program to set nuclear claymores on the Golan Heights is called "David's Sling." According to sources, the landmines aren't deployed in forward areas. Because Israel has no wish for them to fall into Syrian hands in the initial stages of a war and because of the political fallout over their use, they are actually stored near the Israeli border. In case of a threat, they can be deployed within hours. If circumstances prevent vehicles from moving them, these 220 pound devices can be carried by two soldiers of a special forces unit called "Maitar." The operational plan calls for them to be used in critical passes to blunt any Syrian armored attack that might penetrate Israeli lines. After the blast, nearby Israeli forces could immediately counterattack the crippled armored column without fearing any injury to themselves.
Harold Hough is a long-time writer on military affairs. He's written for Jane's Intelligence Review and many other publications worldwide, including several articles for The Objective American. He is also the author of the classic reference book, Satellite Surveillance, and other volumes.
Doubt it. If you have a weapon that gives you an advantage over any invaders you bloody well keep it tucked away so they can't come up with a counter measure.
" ... that Israel was a nuclear power, it had been common knowledge in the defense and intelligence fields since the early 1970s."
What is a "nuclear power?" Then, and now, the definition does not require weapons inventories. "Atoms for Peace" was a prevailing wish of the western countries, so that nations without fuel-burning power-generation might benefit with nuclear power-generation. Plans for various countries building nuclear plants, included Israel; no secret.
The "defense field" includes, in the West, 10's of thousands of of engineers, civilians, pretty much making the "common knowledge" that of especially the American public; had they bothered to take as much note, then, as the author argues now.
The Lockheed "Black Bird" "Spy Plane," SR-71 and its cousins, made out by the "news media" to be a phenomenon in the 1980's and 1990's, was all over a few newspapers back in 1964 when it broke the speed record across country; almost nobody noticed, then.
"That information was available to anyone with a degree in nuclear physics."
Such information does not require a "degree in nuclear physics;" the information is available to many people who will make the effort to investigate at their local libraries.
Indeed, university libraries are full of surprises. For example, the logs of the C.I.A. are kept nearby, here; in the 1980's I could study the whereabouts --- on an hourly basis --- of top Soviet officials of the C.C.C.P.
" ... How It Works ... "
Descibes enough details, so as to give weight to Israel as a developer for Israel's unique purposes, lending the weapon to therefore be uniquely Israeli; but this description offers no more of the "How" than can be found in a number of other countries' efforts at weapons development, as well as tactical deployment.
On on that last point of "tactical deployment," the story's sounds good and may be, but there are more clever uses to remain un-published should a person care to improve the odds of their never being required in combat.
No worrys X. If you got in front of "one of these babies" it would be over before you knew what happened. The 25000 guys behind you might be a mite peeved though....
Reagan was mistaken in not reviving the Neutron Bomb and Bush is negligent if he doesn't restart that program.
I hope it is closer to being true for if it is then Isreal has the capacity to defend itself.For more background see this link.
The Arabs are going to be toast when they try another sneak attack. Glass toast that is.
Very doubtful.AFAIK, the minimum mass of plutonium/enriched uranium for fission to occur is at least 5kg; add to this conventional explosives and the containment, a hand grenade would weigh far too much to be practical.
Smallest nukes I know of would be 155mm artillery shells, which have been abandoned as too expensive.
Clicking on this article’s supposed source link took me to a site that appeared to be in Chinese...
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