Mordechai Vanunu: “Israel Has 200 Nuclear Bombs”

According to the Israeli government, Mordechai Vanunu is a traitor because he head leaked the secret of the Israel’s nuclear program. He claimed Israel has produced 200 nuclear bombs.

He told that top secret to Peter Hpunam, a reporter for the Sunday Times. The paper published those interesting stories and Vanunu’s photograph on September 28, 1986. On 5 October, The Times released the stories equipped with documents and the pictures of the inside of the Dimona reactor which recorded secretly by Vanunu himself. The title of that report was “Revealing the Secret of the Israel’s Nuclear Weapons”.

Then Vanunu was captured by the Israeli agents on 30 September. A woman agent of Mossad from the US, Cheryl Bentov a.k.a. Cindy, asked him to the flight route to Rome. Evidently, several Mossad agents had waited for him there. They then took Vanunu to Israel by the cargo ship.

The government of Israel recognized that they had detained Vanunu on November 9, 1986. After being courted secretly in the district tribunal of Jerusalem, on October 27, 1987 Judge Eliahu Noam convicted Vanunu 18 years in prison after charged with treasonable and spying activities.

He then detained at the Ashkelon prison in the western Negev. He had been in the isolated cell for 11.5 years. The authority just allowed his family, lawyer, and priest to visit him. They even could not touched him because the meeting separated by the glass window. During 1988-2004, Vanunu always nominated as the Peace Nobel candidate.

Vanunu was a former technician at the Negev Center for Nuclear Research that lies on the Negev desert, southern Dimona. He worked there since November 1976-October 1986. He then opposed the Israel’s nuclear program after quit. He traveled to Nepal, Burma, and Thailand.

He moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1986. He lived in a flat at Kings Cross and he did any kind of works, from washer in a restaurant until a taxi driver. He converted to the Anglican and changed his name as John Crossman.

Vanunu was born in Marakesh, Morocco, in October 13, 1954.  His father is a rabbi and he has 11 brothers and sisters. His family moved to Israel in 1963.

He finished his military service (1971-1974) as a First Sergeant. After respectively resigned, Vanunu studied philosophy at the University of Ben Gurion. He was known as peace and anti-government activist. He founded a group of “Campus” together with four Israeli students and five Arabs.

Vannunu was released from the prison on April 21, 2004. But he still has limitation: he should have authority’s permission to travel to other cities, he is forbidden to leave Israel for a year (expanded until April 2008), he is not allowed to have interview with the foreign press, He is also have no permit to come into the foreign embassies, ports, airports, and close to the border.

Faisal Assegaf from Tempo interviewed him for several times, first in July 2004 and the last in January 2006. Excerpts:

Do you have any plan after released from the prison?
After released from the prison on April 21, I was placed at the security center in Jerusalem. I was not allowed to leave Israel for a year then I appealed to the court to get permission for that. The tribunal will give decision next Monday whether I can leave Israel or not. If they say okay, I will go to the airport and fly to London and other cities to meet my friends which I have a lot. I want to stay in the US to start my new life. I am willing to continue my study,. Write several books, and works for the people who need me.

How is your feeling after freed?
I am very happy because I was freed after imprisoned for 18 years. I am excited because I am safe and free now.

Do you hate Israel?
No, I don’t hate my own country.

So, what was your motivation to leak the Israel’s secret nuclear program?
I did that for humanitarian reasons.

How serious the Israel’s nuclear can threat the security and the stability in the Middle East?
I had published that Israel had produced 200 nuclear bombs. They made atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, and nitrogen bombs. Israel had also produced the materials to make those kinds of bombs.

So, is it very powerful?
I had published about the power of Israeli nuclear and the entire world has known what they have. I believe this information can avoid Israel to use their nuclear in each war they involve.

Are you worried that you will be rearrested?
I am not afraid because I have informed to the people around the globe. Thus, they can’t do anything to me.

Have you informed IAEA about the Israel’s nuclear program?
If I can go freely I will give some information to them. Muhammad ElBaradei (the Director General of IAEA) has visited Israel and he knew everything.

Regarding the issue of nuclear, until this time, there is no any country, including the UN, can pressure Israel to obey the international law. What is your comment?
I think the international law will work harder to push its authority. Currently, there is no single country that speak firmly and clearly, including the US, European Union, RRC, Japan, Indonesia or India. They have to convey strong messages in any kind of forums, including at the UN, about the Israel’s nuclear reactor.

But, Israel always insists that their nuclear program for self-defense and not to strike other countries, like Palestine. What do you think about that?
I think it’s not true. The nuclear weapon is not for self-defense because it is a mass destruction weapon. The nuclear weapon can be used to destroy cities and kill million of people. To defend yourself, you have to mobilize your own arm forces to defeat the enemies, not by the nuclear weapon. This weapon only use to destroy civilization. In my opinion, the best defense system for Israel is to live side by side in peace with the Palestinians and give their rights.

What is you forecast about the progress of the Israel’s nuclear program in the next 25 years?
I don’t know what they are doing now. As far as I know during the past 18 years that they have reached an excellent achievement on that program. They succeeded to produced sophisticated nuclear weapons and continue develop their program.

What about their nuclear strategy?
I am sure they continue to upgrade the capability of their nuclear weapons. They will have the most sophisticated weapons and follow the US in that matter.

Comparing with the nuclear countries, such as the US, RRC, and North Korea, where is the position of Israel?
Israel has nuclear weapons less than those countries. This situation is very serious because Israel had that such weapon.

What will you do to push Israel for nuclear disarmament?
Once I was abroad, I will speak about any kind of nuclear weapons. If you want to destroy nuclear weapons, so that kind policy should be done by all countries. Because the US, Russia, RRC, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have these weapons, Israel use that as a justification that they have right to develop nuclear weapons.

It is true you will be interrogated by the Israeli police?
Yes, right.

When?
I don’t know, may be in the next few days.

Are you ready?
Off course, what else I can do anymore. I am ready any time to be interrogated.

What will you tell to the police?
I will say that I don’t violate any restriction from the Israeli government. I don’t keep secret anymore. What I said to some foreign press after release was published. Every human being has freedom of expression.

So, you are not afraid will be put in jail again?
Yes, I am afraid.

Thus, what are you going to do?
What else, I have no power to do anything. I decide to stop receiving any interview for the next two weeks. I will wait and see what happen.

If the interrogations happen, what will you do?
I will delete all interview records and transcripts I received.

Could you mention any media that interviewed you after your freedom?
There are many foreign press interviewed me after my release from the prison. They are coming from the UK, Arab countries, and one from the US. Actually, there are a lot of Israeli media wish to interview me but I refused them.

Can you say those media names?
From the UK are BBC TV, the Guardian, the Times, and the Daily Mirror.

Do the police currently keep an eye on you?
I don’t know but I am sure they always follow my activities.

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