Poll: Netanyahu should be investigated for nuclear weapons tech smuggling before US visit

Jan 28, 2015, 12:12 ET from Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy:

A majority of Americans believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be investigated by the FBI for nuclear weapons technology smuggling before being allowed to enter the United States according to a new poll.

In 2012 the FBI declassified and released files (PDF archive) of its investigation into how 800 nuclear weapons triggers were illegally smuggled from the US to Israel.  According to the FBI, the Israeli Ministry of Defense ordered nuclear triggers (krytrons), encrypted radios, ballistic missile propellants and other export-prohibited items through a network of front companies.  Smuggling ring operations leader Richard Kelly Smyth alleged that Netanyahu worked at one of the fronts—Heli Trading  owned by confessed spy and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan—and met with him frequently to execute smuggling operations. 

The poll was commissioned by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep).  When informed of the incident, most Americans (54.9 percent) indicate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be investigated by the FBI before an upcoming U.S. visit.

Israel officially designated the smuggling operation "Project Pinto."  Smyth was captured, prosecuted and incarcerated in 2002 after years on the run as an international fugitive.  The krytrons were believed to be destined for Israel's clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Only 25.8 percent of Americans polled believe Netanyahu should be allowed to freely visit the US while 15.9 percent say said he should neither be investigated nor allowed to enter the US

When questioned by Israeli and Russian media about the smuggling affair, the Israeli Foreign Ministry denied involvement. 

Younger respondents (age 18-24 and 25-34) are generally more likely to want Netanyahu investigated (73.6 percent and 62.0 percent) than older Americans.  Responses vary little between income categories.  However females (63.4 percent) were more likely than males (50.4 percent) to prefer Netanyahu be criminally investigated before being allowed to enter America.

Netanyahu has recently announced plans to break diplomatic protocol and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Congress in March, 2015 without coordinating his state visit with the White House. 

The IRmep poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent, was fielded January 26-28, 2015 by Google Consumer Surveys and received 1,507 responses. The poll question, response choices and statistically significant results may be viewed online and cross-tabulated at:



SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy