Team to probe if Vanunu violated terms of release

29/07/2004 A special team of Israel Police, the Shin Bet security service and the State Prosecution will examine whether nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has violated the terms of his release by granting interviews to the foreign media, Israel Radio reported on Thursday. Vanunu will be questioned by the team. Vanunu has been placed under a number of strict restrictions since his release from jail in April after 18 years, including speaking to the media and travelling abroad.

On Monday, the High Court of Justice rejected his petition against these restrictions. The court ruled there was no doubt Vanunu was willing to expose classified information regarding the Dimona reactor and is as determined as ever to do so. This backed prosecution claims that Vanunu is still a security risk and has shown he is willing go public with any more information he can find. In his defense, Vanunu said he had disclosed all material in his possession about Israel’s nuclear capabilities and there was therefore no justification in restricting him beyond his prison sentence. He was freed from prison in April after an 18-year term for revealing secrets about Israel’s nuclear program to the British Sunday Times. Two interviews have so far been published this week with Vanunu in the foreign press. In an interview published Thursday in the London-based Arabic weekly Al-Wassat, Vanunu is quoted as saying “Israel possesses between 100-200 nuclear weapons including a neutron bomb and hydrogen bombs.” He is also quoted as saying that are “near-certain indications” that Israel was behind the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. In an interview publisher Sunday with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al Hayat, Vanunu is quoted as saying that the Dimona nuclear reactor endangers the lives of millions throughout the Middle East. Vanunu told the paper that a strong earthquake in the region may crack the reactor, causing radioactive leakage that would result in the death of millions. Vanunu also told the paper that the Jordanian government should prepare for possible leaks from the reactor, just as Israel has plans to distribute iodine anti-radiation pills to residents living close to the nuclear reactor in Dimona. He said that Jordanians living close to the border with Israel should be examined for possible nuclear radiation, explaining that the Hashemite Kingdom is particularly at risk from the reactor as it operates mainly when “the wind blows toward Jordan.” He said he does not believe that the United States and European nations will pressure Israel into revealing the full extent of its nuclear capabilities. Vanunu also took the opportunity to blast United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed El Baradei for visiting Israel earlier this month and not putting any pressure on it to open up its nuclear program to international inspection. “He should have done here what he did in Iraq,” he was quoted as saying.