The Case of Mordechai Vannunu
Preeminent Hero of the Nuclear Ageby MARK GAFFNEY
Each day we move closer to a Mideast war that could involve the use of horrible weapons, even nukes. In this darkest hour since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the shining example of one man's courage has never been more relevant to the cause of peace. That man is Mordechai Vanunu, former Israeli nuclear technician, and may well be the longest serving prisoner of conscience anywhere in the world. Daniel Ellsberg recently referred to him as "the preeminent hero of the nuclear age."
In September 1986, Mordechai Vanunu was illegally abducted by agents of the Mossad for revealing to the world press information that confirmed the existence of Israel's often-denied plutonium separation plant. The plant is buried eighty feet below ground in the Negev desert, and had long escaped detection. Since the 1960s it has been used to recover plutonium from spent fuel rods from the Dimona nuclear reactor, located nearby. The plant continues to be an integral part of Israel's ongoing nuclear weapons program. Israel is believed to possess at least 200 nukes.
Then Prime Minister Shimon Peres ordered Vanunu' s abduction to silence the whistleblower, and to bring him to trial for allegedly jeopardizing the securi ty of the state of Israel. But Vanunu's real "crime" was speaking the truth. And for that he was made to suffer a fate worse than death: eleven years and five months in solitary confinement. Isolation in a tiny cell is a well known form of torture, and one that can cause deep emotional scars and mental impairment. During this period Vanunu was subjected to constant harassments and humiliations: an obvious attempt by the Mossad to "break" his will, or drive him over the edge. Amnesty International described the conditions of his ordeal as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading."
Yet, the prisoner held firm as a rock. Nor has Vanunu since wavered from the position of principle he articulated in the very beginning: that the only sane path is full disclosure and abolition of nuclear weapons. From his prison cell Mordechai wrote: "It is a dangerous illusion to believe they [nuclear weapons] can be defensive....Only peace between states can promise security."
The world gained another glimpse of Vanunu's character in 1998, shortly after his removal from solitary and his placement in the general prison population. At that time he was queried by Israeli officials about whether he would agree to remain silent on the nuclear issue, implying an offer of conditional release. But Vanunu refused. He insisted on his right to speak freely. And he made it plain that being muzzled on the nuclear issue was non-negotiable: not an option for his release. Vanunu is currently starting the seventeenth year of his eighteen year sentence. One of the causes for which Vanunu risked his life, full disclosure of Israel's nuclear policies, was briefly realized in February 1999, when a debate of the nuclear issue occurred on the floor of the Israeli Knesset. The event was short-lived. After shouting and recriminations, several Arab members of the Knesset who had sparked the debate were expelled from the chamber. The stormy circumstances showed the extent of denial that remains to be overcome. But it was a victory, nonetheless, for those who favor nuclear abolition.
Over the years the case of Mordechai Vanunu has come to symbolize the intractable problem of state secrecy that continues to stymie all efforts toward world nuclear disarmament. This is why Vanunu has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since1987. Though his name is a household word in Europe, Australia, and throughout much of the rest of the world, here in America Vanunu remains almost unknown. The US press ignores his case because it is an embarrassment to Israel and to the US government.
Yet, spotlighting Vanunu for his courage and his witness would have salutary effects. It would increase public awareness of the folly of President Bush's current Mideast policies. The problem is Bush's double standard: one standard for the US and Israel, another for everyone else. This explains why almost nobody (outside the US) trusts the president when he says he wants to roll back weapons of mass destruction from the Mideast. They correctly understand that Bush is not serious. If he were he would also be pressuring Israel to open its nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors. Israel remains the only state in the region with nuclear weapons.
Mark Gaffney is an anti-nuclear activist and the author of a pioneering 1989 book about Israel's nuclear weapons program: DIMONA, THE THIRD TEMPLE. THE STORY BEHIND THE VANUNU REVELATION. Mark can be reached for comment at email@example.com
Archived in accordance with "fair use" provisions of copyright law for use by scholars, researchers, and educators for study purposes from Rediff India at http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/jul/26vanunu.htm where it appeared on India's Internet on July 29, 2004.
Israel killed JFK, says Vanunu
Sunday Times reporter held in Israel
July 26, 2004
In a startling accusation, nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has alleged that Jerusalem was behind the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, who was exerting pressure on the then Israeli head of state to shed light on the Dimona nuclear plant.
In defiance of a ban on talking to the media and meeting with foreigners, Vanunu is said to have made the accusation in an interview to London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
As per the interview published in newspaper's Arabic supplement Al-Wassat yesterday, Vanunu said according to "near-certain indications", Kennedy was assassinated due to "pressure he exerted on then head of government, David Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona's nuclear reactor".
"We do not know which irresponsible Israeli Prime Minister will take office and decide to use nuclear weapons in the struggle against neighboring Arab countries," he is quoted to have said, adding, "What has already been exposed about the weapons Israel is holding can destroy the region and kill millions."
The whistleblower, who was released in April after 18 years of imprisonment on charges of treason for divulging state secrets, also said that the reactor in Dimona, could become a second "Chernobyl", Israili media reported. He said an earthquake could cause fissures to the core and that would cause a massive radiation leak threatening millions.
Vanunu warned that Jordan should test the residents along the border with Israel for exposure to radiation and give them pills just like the Jewish state decided to do for its citizens.
Criticising the visit of head of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed el-Baradei, to Israel early this month, he said, "He (Baradei) should have refused to visit Israel (because) he was not allowed to inspect the nuclear reactor."
It was not yet clear how al-Hayat did the interview, which the publication claimed is the first with Vanunu since his release. If it turns out that he in fact gave such an interview in violation of the conditions laid down for his release, severe sanctions might be imposed on him.
An Israeli Justice Ministry statement said "the statements that Vanunu made will be examined and if it is determined that he "violated the law or his restrictions, then steps against him will be considered."
"The opinions on Vanunu are divided," said Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Some say let him speak and it adds to the ambiguity policy, while others say the more he speaks the more he raises? tensions, particularly in the current atmosphere."
Brushing aside the latest allegations, he said that serious people understood that Vanunu was speaking nonsense and his comments on JFK were not worthy of a reaction.
|The article below has
been archived in accordance with "fair use" provision of the copyright
law for research, scholarship, and education at the scholarly website, www.jewwatch.com
from the Jerusalem Post on the Internet at the URL http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1090725927691
where it appeared on July 29, 2004.
Jul. 25, 2004 8:59 | Updated Jul. 25, 2004 20:54
Vanunu: Israel behind JFK assassination
By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN
Comments by freed nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu that Israel was behind the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy failed to bring smiles to government officials Sunday.
One would expect that such claims would portray Vanunu as a man with a credibility problem, but as far as the defense establishment is concern, the former nuclear technician still has secrets to reveal and a declared goal of ending Israel's nuclear program. He shouldn't be talking to the media and is actually barred from meeting with foreigners.
Nevertheless, the London-based al-Hayat published Sunday an interview it claims it had with Vanunu. According to the interview which appeared in its Arabic supplement Al-Wassat, Vanunu said that according to "near-certain indications", Kennedy was assassinated due to "pressure he exerted on then head of government, David Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona's nuclear reactor."
"We do not know which irresponsible Israeli prime minister will take office and decide to use nuclear weapons in the struggle against neighboring Arab countries," Vanunu was quoted as saying. "What has already been exposed about the weapons Israel is holding can destroy the region and kill millions."
Vanunu also said that the reactor in Dimona, where he worked, could become a second "Chernobyl." He said that an earthquake could cause fissures to the core and that would cause a massive radiation leak threatening millions.
Vanunu warned that Jordan should test the residents along the border with Israel for exposure to radiation and give them pills just like Israel decided to do for its citizens.
Vanunu also criticized the visit to Israel early this month by the head of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed el-Baradei.
"He (Baradei) should have refused to have visited Israel (because) he was not allowed to inspect the nuclear reactor," Vanunu said.
According to al-Hayat, Vanunu now lives "with his Palestinian friends" in east Jerusalem.
It was not clear how al-Hayat did the interview, which the publication claimed with the first Vanunu has granted to a newspaper since his release from Ashkelon prison last April.
Vanunu has been barred from granting interviews to foreign media.
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