Institute for Research:
Middle Eastern Policy

"Research - Awareness - Accountability"




Challenging the secret
"Israel Nuclear Weapons Gag Order" WNP-136

UPDATED: December 17, 2019

IRmep has filed a 39-page federal lawsuit (PDF) challenging the secrecy of a gag order—WNP-136 (PDF)—that forbids all U.S. government agency employees and contractors from discussing Israel's nuclear weapons program.

The classification bulletin, which took effect on September 6, 2012, forbids covered persons from making any comment on U.S. government information or information in the public domain about Israel's nuclear weapons program. The classification bulletin's first known use was against former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear policy specialist James Doyle after he wrote the following sentence in an article titled "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?" which had been security cleared by his employer and published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"Nuclear weapons did not deter Egypt and Syria from attacking Israel in 1973, Argentina from attacking British territory in the 1982 Falklands War or Iraq from attacking Israel during the 1991 Gulf War."

After an unknown congressional staffer read the article and demanded a review, it was referred to classification officials for a second review. Doyle's pay was then cut, his home computer searched, and he was fired.

IRmep alleges in the lawsuit that the American public has been harmed by being kept in the dark about U.S. policy toward the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Important questions include:

  1. Should Israel’s nuclear weapons facilities be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency?

  2. Where does Israel dispose of the toxic waste its program generates?

  3. Is the U.S. still vigorously investigating (though not prosecuting) diversions of materials and technologies to Israel, as it did in the past over nuclear triggers (The Milchan-Netanyahu krytron smuggling ring), weapons grade uranium (NUMEC), oscilloscopes and other weapons development technology diversions (Telogy LLC)?

  4. Are Israel’s nuclear weapons used to coerce the U.S. into making adverse policy decisions?

  5. Besides apartheid South Africa, has Israel offered any of its nuclear weapons for sale to other foreign countries?

  6. Has Israel mounted nuclear weapons onto its German-supplied Dolphin-class submarines?

As documented in the lawsuit, WNP-136 is not really a classification guidance, but rather a legislative rule designed to prevent covered parties from commenting on information already in the public domain, while prohibiting the release of additional information about Israel's nuclear weapons program held by various government agencies. IRmep submits as evidence transcripts of reporter Sam Husseini's video documentaries of questions posed to executive agency and White House officials, as well as U.S. Department of State John Kirby's refusal to answer questions about former Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement that "Israel had over 200 nuclear weapons pointed at Tehran."


However, as stated in the lawsuit, one government employee, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a position to know, but not covered by WNP-136, was pressured into admitting that Israel has a nuclear weapons program last year at the National Press Club


IRmep alleges WNP-136 serves an even more damaging purpose than misinforming the American public: WNP-136 is used to subvert U.S. Arms Export Control Act statutes on the provision of U.S. foreign aid to a country that has long possessed nuclear weapons but never signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The IRmep lawsuit notes that:

"On March 23 the President signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill into law, after Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 mandating that $3.1 billion in foreign aid be given to Israel. The authority cited for this $3.1 billion transfer (out of a total of $5.7 billion) in taxpayer funds is section 23 of the Arms Export Control Act. The American public in general, especially taxpayers, therefore have an immediate and overriding interest in knowing whether 54% of funds enabled under one section of the Arms Export Control Act (section 23) are being spent only because Defendants are proactively undermining enforcement of another section of the very same act (section 22) via the secret WNP-136."



04/05/2018 IRmep Complaint (PDF)
06/11/2018 DOJ Answer to Complaint (PDF)
07/26/2018 DOJ DOS Motion to Dismiss (PDF)
  Statement of Facts (PDF)
  Declaration of Edith Chalk, United States Department of Energy (PDF)
  Declaration of Eric Stein, United States Department of State (PDF)
08/16/2018 IRmep Cross Motion for Summary Judgement (PDF)
  Statement of Facts (PDF)
  Proposed Order (PDF)
09/12/2018 Defendants’ Reply In Support Of Motion To Dismiss (PDF)
  Supplemental Declaration of Eric F. Stein (PDF)
  Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts (PDF)
9/30/2019 Memorandum Opinion (PDF)


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