Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Risks Jail
to Talk Exclusively to AFP
Vanunu, Israel’s most famous dissident free after 18 years in prison, is ready
to defy the severe restrictions imposed upon him by the Israeli military and
tell the western media everything he knows about the Middle East’s largest
secret arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. However, because the hidden
stockpiles belong to Israel, no American news outlet is interested in
discussing this, except American Free Press.
“I have sacrificed my freedom and risked my life
in order to expose the danger of nuclear weapons, which threaten this whole
region,” Vanunu said in an exclusive interview with American Free Press
on July 28.
Vanunu spent 18 years in an Israeli prison—11 and
a half of them in solitary confinement—for providing evidence of Israel’s nuclear
arsenal to a British newspaper in 1986. “I acted on behalf of all citizens and
all of humanity,” said Vanunu.
In October 1986, Vanunu, a nuclear technician who
had worked at the Dimona Nuclear Power Plant in the Negev Desert for 10 years,
traveled to London and gave photographic evidence to The Sunday Times
that Israel was secretly developing nuclear weapons. Two months earlier he had
converted to Christianity while traveling in Australia.
After having learned about the secret production
of plutonium for nuclear weapons at Dimona, in 1985 Vanunu believed it was his
responsibility to inform the citizens of the world that an arsenal of nuclear
weapons was being created in Israel.
Vanunu provided evidence and described how Israel
had built an arsenal of over 200 nuclear bombs and neutron bombs. Before The Times’s
story was even published, however, Vanunu had been lured to Rome and kidnapped
by Israeli secret service agents. A secret trial followed, and Vanunu was
locked in a tiny, windowless cell for more than a decade.
When Vanunu was released from an Israeli prison on
April 21, the Israeli military authorities imposed severe restrictions on his
freedom. He is banned from leaving the country, confined to an assigned
residence and denied the right to be in contact with journalists or foreigners.
The human rights organization Amnesty International
(AI) protested the restrictions imposed on Vanunu saying on April 19: “Vanunu
must not be subject to arbitrary restrictions and violations of his fundamental
rights on the basis of pretexts or suspicions about what he may do in the
The restrictions on Vanunu’s movement, speech and
association violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
which Israel has ratified and is obliged to uphold, according to AI.
While Israeli officials contend the restrictions
are to prevent Vanunu from divulging information about Israel’s nuclear
arsenal, AI sees it differently:
“Israel’s determination to curtail Vanunu’s
freedom and contact with the outside world seem to be intended to prevent him
from revealing details of his abduction by Israeli secret service agents 18
years ago in Rome in what was clearly an unlawful act,” AI said.
According to Jonathan Cook of The Guardian
in Britain, Vanunu’s brother, Meir, who lives with him at St. George’s, says
there is another motive for the restrictions and confinement of Israel’s most
famous dissident: Vanunu’s release brings attention to Israel’s nuclear arsenal
at precisely the moment when the justification for attacking Saddam Hussein’s
Iraq—his possession of weapons of mass destruction—is shown to have been
“If Vanunu were free to talk, he might remind the
world that the greatest threat to Middle East peace comes not from Baghdad but
from Tel Aviv,” Cook wrote. “That is a message neither America nor Britain
wants to hear right now.”
The same controlled U.S. media networks that sent
embedded reporters into combat in Iraq and published false reports about that
nation’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, are seemingly afraid to go to St.
George’s Cathedral in East Jerusalem and interview Vanunu, Israel’s most famous
dissident and peace activist, for fear of crossing a line drawn by the Israeli
American Free Press, however, and the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al
Hayat have interviewed Vanunu recently from St. George’s, where he has
sought asylum in the Anglican church compound a short distance from the U.S.
Consulate in East Jerusalem.
BEHIND THE JFK ASSASSINATION
Comments made by Vanunu during an interview with Al
Hayat’s weekly magazine Al Wassat, published on July 25, made
headlines around the world but were completely ignored in the United States,
where they could have caused immense political damage to Israel. As The
Jerusalem Post’s article headline read, “Vanunu: Israel behind JFK
Russia’s Pravda article of July 27 began:
“Israel may be implicated in the biggest crime of the past century, which took
place in Dallas in 1963.”
Iran’s Tehran Times, writing from Jerusalem,
said: “In a startling accusation, nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has
alleged that Jerusalem was behind the assassination of U.S. President John F.
Kennedy, who was exerting pressure on the then Israeli head of state to shed
light on the Dimona nuclear plant.”
Similar articles appeared in newspapers around the
world, but in the United States this explosive news was only reported by wire
services and in Jewish newspapers.
Vanunu’s comments that there are “near-certain
indications” that Israel was involved in the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy support the thesis of Michael Collins Piper, presented in his book Final
Judgment, that Israeli agents played a key role in the murder.
AFP asked Vanunu to explain his comments about
Israeli involvement in the murder of President Kennedy.
“My view is that Kennedy was assassinated because
of his strong opposition to [Israeli prime minister] Ben Gurion,” Vanunu said.
At the time, Ben Gurion was working to create a
nuclear arsenal for Israel.
The group that was involved with Ben Gurion in
developing and protecting Israel’s nuclear arsenal “was behind the
assassination of Kennedy,” Vanunu said.
As Piper documents in Final Judgment,
Kennedy’s resistance to Israel becoming a nuclear-armed state led to increasing
hostility between the two leaders until Ben Gurion resigned in June 1963.
Kennedy had realized that the Israelis were producing illegal nuclear weapons
from the nuclear reactor given to Israel in 1959 under the “Atoms for Peace”
In the Al Wassat interview, Vanunu said:
“Israel possesses between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons, including a neutron bomb
and hydrogen bombs, which are tenfold in their effect. If an atomic bomb can
kill 100,000 people then the hydrogen bomb can kill a million.
“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,” The Jerusalem Post reported Vanunu
having said. “What has already been exposed about the weapons Israel is holding
[is that they] can destroy the region and kill millions.”
A ‘SECOND CHERNOBYL’
Vanunu also warned of the environmental dangers of
nuclear leaks at Israel’s antiquated nuclear facility at Dimona. An earthquake
or nuclear accident at Dimona could result in the “leaking of nuclear
radiation, threatening millions of people in neighboring countries,” Vanunu
Jordan, in particular, was mentioned as being in
danger of nuclear contamination. “Dimona’s chimneys do not operate unless the
winds blow in the direction of Jordan,” Vanunu said.
A Jordanian government spokesman, Asma Khader,
responded promptly to Vanunu’s claim, saying, “The kingdom is free of
Vanunu also criticized the recent visit to Israel
of Mohamed El Baradei, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“I am very disappointed by Mr. El Baradei because
I expected him to go and inspect the Dimona reactor,” Vanunu said. “The job of
Mr. Baradei is to go and see if what I said . . . if it’s true.”
Vanunu stressed to AFP his strong desire to speak
with the media despite the restrictions, and provide them with information and
his views on the need for peace—and a nuclear-free Middle East.
Asked if the U.S. media was interested in meeting
him, Vanunu said “not one” American or British newspaper or television network
had visited him at St. George’s since his release from prison.
“Why are they in silence?” Vanunu asked AFP about
the U.S. media. “Why is the press not coming to see me? The media should bring
my case to the people and the politicians. This case must be heard.”
Linda Rothstein, editor of the Chicago-based Bulletin
of Atomic Scientists, however, showed little interest in Vanunu’s story,
saying that Vanunu has his supporters and that the Bulletin is not an
Likewise, Kay Seok of Human Rights Watch said that
there was nothing they could do. “Nobody at HRW is working on Israel right
now,” she said.
WANTS OUT OF ISRAEL
Vanunu desperately wants to leave Israel, where he
is viewed as a traitor, and seek political asylum in the United States. Nick
and Mary Eoloff of St. Paul, Minnesota, have formally adopted Vanunu and are
ready to provide him sanctuary.
Mrs. Eoloff told AFP that Vanunu’s life is in
danger in Israel.
“I want to go abroad and start my life as a free
man,” Vanunu said after Israel’s high court upheld the military’s restrictions
on his movement and freedom. “If Israel is a democracy, it should allow me to
Asked if he had been tortured during his 18 years
in prison, Vanunu said, “Of course.”
He said he had been subjected to “mental and
psychological torture” that was “cruel and barbaric.”
Because he had converted to Christianity he had
received worse treatment than Jewish prisoners, he said. Vanunu said he had
been treated like a Palestinian and that his captors had tried to “destroy”
“I am a symbol of the will of freedom,” he said.
“You cannot break the human spirit.”
Asked about his supporters in the United States,
Vanunu said: “I need their support to get me out. Americans should raise their
voices with their congressmen and ask them in a loud voice to visit me and
bring attention to my case.
“My country is not Israel,” Vanunu said. “I want
to be free and to leave Israel.”
“Israel does not respect my basic human rights,”
Vanunu said. “I am denied the freedom of movement and freedom of speech—like
all Palestinians. I want peace and freedom from all nuclear weapons in the