Israel and France once made a secret deal to produce a nuclear bomb together, according to a new biography of Israeli elder statesman Shimon Peres.
The deal was later cancelled, but the disclosure in the book by Israeli historian Michael Bar-Zohar sheds new light on the depth of France's involvement in making Israel the Middle East's sole atomic power.
Bar-Zohar told Reuters his information came from recently released documents from Israeli and French government archives relating to the key role Peres, now 83, played in launching Israel's nuclear project more than half a century ago.
Peres, a deputy premier in Israel's current government and a candidate for the ceremonial job of state president, is best known abroad for sharing a Nobel peace prize for a 1993 interim peace deal with Palestinians which he engineered.
But the book divulges new details of how the Polish-born politician launched his career with less peaceful goals in mind: as a behind-the-scenes architect of Israel's military might, securing weapons secretly and buying an atomic reactor from France.