Nuclear explosion
Was there a secret nuclear test in the Indian Ocean conducted by Israel?- Representational imageCreative Commons

Israel might have conducted secret nuclear tests out in the ocean about 39 years ago, alleges a new study released earlier this week. Traces of radioactive isotopes on Australian sheep's wool has been found to support this claim.

According to the study, there have been long standing claims that the Middle Eastern country did, in fact, conduct illegal nuclear tests about 39 years back. There were even reports of a mysterious flash in the ocean, which kick-started this speculation, notes a report by RT.

The date was 22 September, 1979, and a US satellite, called Vela 6911 detected a 'double flash' in the vicinity of the Marion and Prince Edward islands, deep in the southern regions of the Indian Ocean, reports the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Since then, the report points out that there have been numerous speculations that the unexplained flashes were a top secret nuclear test carried out by Israel.

Then US President Jimmy Carter, was briefed on these flashes, and even he was reported to assume that this incident was indeed a nuclear test. As far as Israel was concerned, they neither deny or confirm even having a nuclear programme.

Researchers note that this Israeli test, if it did indeed take place, was in clear violation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

IsraelWikimedia Commons

This new research paper was first published in the Science & Global Security journal and researchers have found radioactive isotope iodine-131 in the thyroid glands of Australian sheep in the months following this 'Vela incident.'

Christopher Wright of the Australian Defense Force Academy and nuclear physicist Lars-Erik De Geer are reported to have analyzed sheep thyroid samples sent every month to American labs through 1979. While the results were found nearly 40 years ago, it was not made public till recently. It was released for public reading under the Freedom of Information Act, says RT.

Sheep in Australia were found to be affected by radiation carried to the continent through rain just four days after the incident and that, "would be consistent with them having grazed in the path of a potential radioactive fallout plume from a 22 September low-yield nuclear test in the Southern Indian Ocean," the paper states.

The analysis of weather patterns suggests that the "fallout plume" from an event like a nuclear explosion would have easily carried over from location of the site in the Indian Ocean all the way to parts of Australia.