WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Obama administration has been asked to delay a 2010 National Medal of Technology and Innovation award to Zalman Shapiro over lingering questions about the theft and diversion of US weapons grade uranium to Israel. Shapiro, a talented inventor, was the former president of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation. Shapiro and NUMEC were investigated over the diversion of weapons grade uranium to Israel from the plant at Apollo, Pennsylvania. A March/April 2010 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists analysis estimates that 741 pounds of highly enriched uranium suitable for weapons production disappeared from NUMEC while Shapiro was president and was likely diverted into the Israeli nuclear weapons program.
Israel's top economic espionage case officer Rafael Eitan, who handled spy Jonathan Pollard in the 1980s, infiltrated NUMEC to meet with Shapiro in 1968. According to Anthony Cordesman, “there is no conceivable reason for Eitan to have gone [to the Apollo plant] but for the nuclear material.” Former Deputy of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology Carl Duckett went on record verifying the agency came to the conclusion by 1968 that “NUMEC material had been diverted by the Israelis and used in fabricating weapons.” NUMEC’s venture capitalist had close ties to Israeli intelligence. CIA Tel Aviv station chief John Hadden went on record calling NUMEC "an Israeli operation from the beginning."
An 80 page filing submitted by the IRmep Center for Policy and Law Enforcement argues that until all classified government files on NUMEC are released, honoring the plant’s former president with the nation’s highest honor to scientists, engineers, and inventors could be tantamount to rewarding theft and nuclear proliferation. According to Council on Foreign Relations scholar Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Israel attempted to sell nuclear-tipped Jericho missiles to South Africa. This occurred after the NUMEC incident but before the Apartheid regime left power.
Both the CIA and FBI have refused to release all unredacted NUMEC case files. NUMEC is now undergoing a $170 million taxpayer funded toxic cleanup. According to the recently declassified GAO report “Nuclear Diversion in the US? Thirteen Years of Contradiction and Confusion” responsible US agencies failed to properly investigate the NUMEC diversion as required by the Atomic Energy Act.
Shapiro’s application for the NMTI award obtained under the Freedom of Information Act includes testimonials from representatives of Covington & Burling, Arnold and Porter LLP, Westinghouse, the University of Pittsbugh, University of Maryland and Senator Kristen Gillibrand. It is now available at the Israel Lobby Archive http://www.irmep.org/ila/nukes/specter Documents also include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 2009 denial of requests that it “issue a formal public statement confirming that he [Zalman Shapiro] was not involved in any activities related to the diversion of uranium to Israel.”
The Center for Policy and Law Enforcement and Israel Lobby Archive are units of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington.