Divert! Numec, Zalman Shapiro and the Diversion of US Weapons Grade Uranium Into the Israeli Nuclear Weapons Program by Grant F. Smith
Based on an exhaustive review of formerly classified government documents—as well as previously unexplored corporate filings, office diaries and interviews—Grant F. Smith has written a riveting account of the 1960s diversion of US weapons-grade nuclear material from a front company in Pennsylvania into the clandestine Israeli atomic weapons program. The talented but highly conflictual founder of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC)--Dr. Zalman Mordecai Shapiro--and his close friend and financial backer David Lowenthal engaged in a ferocious clandestine drive to funnel the most valuable military material on earth and forever tilt the balance of power between Israel and the world. Divert! chronicles Zalman Shapiro's journey from engineering key innovations for the Nautilus nuclear submarine in the 1950s to his gambit for America's most advanced hydrogen bomb designs in the 1970s. Tasked during secret summits with high-level Israeli intelligence agents, guided by Israel's top nuclear arms designers, and defended by Israel and its US lobby, Shapiro and NUMEC drove the CIA and FBI into furious outrage and despair. Presidents from Lyndon B. Johnson to Jimmy Carter secretly grappled with how to respond to Israel's brazen theft of American nuclear material before finally deciding to bury the entire affair in classified files. Yet NUMEC's toxic secrets have refused to remain buried. Newly declassified wiretaps detail Shapiro's utter contempt for worker safety and the environment. David Lowenthal's role as an international refugee smuggler between the US, Europe and Israel—before he organized critical financing for NUMEC—is examined within a network of Israeli front companies. This explosive exposé emerges as the US Army Corps of Engineers struggles to quietly clean up NUMEC's toxic waste near Apollo, Pennsylvania with $170 million in taxpayer funding. At a time America is coming under intense pressure to attack on the mere suspicion that Iran is diverting nuclear material into military programs, Divert! stands as a cautionary tale of how US Middle East policy is continually undermined from within by corruption, immunity, deceit and secrecy.