The following dispatch was interrupted by Israeli military censors during transmission and temporarily held up until being approved intact by the censors.
The Israeli government today revoked the press credentials of a CBS radio news reporter for violating military censorship by broadcasting a disputed report that Israel detonated a nuclear bomb in the Atlantic Ocean off South Africa.
The reporter, Dan Raviv, an American working for the CBS Tel Aviv bureau, "flouted basic security laws" by traveling to Rome to broadcast the report Thursday, according to Zeev Chafets, director of Israel's government press office.
According to Raviv's report, a mysterious fireball seen off South Africa on Sept. 22 and believed by many U.S. scientists to have been a nuclear test was an Israeli nuclear explosion carried out with the help of South Africa. Israeli and South African officials have denied the report, and U.S. State Department officials said there was "no "corroborative evidence" of Israeli involvement.
It is the first time since 1969 that Israel has withdrawn accreditation of a foreign correspondent. Then, Tony Hatch, also of CBS, was similarly punished for broadcasting without the censor's approval a report that an Israeli Army commando unit had crossed the Gulf of Suez into Egypt on a secret mission.
Raviv will not be expelled from Israel, Chafets said, but he will be prohibited from attending official events that require accreditation. Chafets also said he has sent a protest to William Leonard, president of CBS News.
All local and foreign reporters in Israel are required to pass news dispatches of a military or national security nature throught the military censor.
Chafets stressed that Raviv's credentials were being withdrawn not because the atomic bomb blast report was apparently inaccurate, but because "he committed a clear violation of the military censorship regulations."
The Israeli government is paticularly sensitive to the bomb test report because its Foregin Ministry has been attempting to renew diplomatic ties with a number of black African states who are opposed to South Africa's policies.
Raviv's report included denials by Israel and South Africa of such a nuclear explosion.
In his report, Raviv cited an unpublished book by two Israeli authors that had been submitted to the military censor for approval. He said "informed sources" confirmed the atomic test was of an Israeli-made weapon and that the device was detonated with the approval of the South African government.
However, the authors, Ami Doran, a former public relations employe of El AL Airlines, and Eli Teicher, a former newspaper reporter, have denied there is any mention of an atomic explosion in their book, which they described as "documentary fiction" dealing with Israel's alleged nuclear capability.
For years, reports have circulated that Israel has developed atomic weapons in a secret laboratory near Dimona, in the Negev desert, and that it has a stockpile of at least a dozen nuclear bombs.
The Israeli government has repeatedly denied the reports, although the U..s Central Intelligence Agency, in a 1974 report disclosed two years ago, said Israel has a nuclear weapon program based in part on uranium obtained through "clandestine means."
Charles Wolfson, CBS bureau chief, would not comment on whether Raviv had been authorized to travel to Rome to avoid military censorship. However, it was learned that the correspondent had received clearance by telephone from the network's New York office while Wolfson was on assignment in Rhodesia.
"Israel is a free country, where freedom of the press is practiced," Chafets said. "But it is a country in a state of war. The situation compels it to impose military censorship . . . and the reason for [it] are known and respected by the foregin press corps working in Israel."
In practice, corespondents here do not have to submit stories for censorship unless they deal directly with military or security affairs. When reporters attempt to bypass such review either by direct telephone or through private telex, the censor frequently disconnects the line until the story is submitted.
As a result, correspondents occasionally travel outside the country to file their reports, although each has been required to sign an agreement pledging not to engage in such evasion.