The U.S. government has been making demands regarding Iran’s nuclear program. On Thursday afternoon State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher was asked about “Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower” and his proposal that “there be a trade-off between the Iranian nuclear program and the ending of the Israeli one.” Boucher declined to comment on the proposal.
When asked about Israel’s nuclear capacity, Boucher said: “I’m not making judgments or presumptions about that. We’ve had a view on the universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that we’ve expressed many times, that applies in all cases.” Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. U.S. government officials have consistently avoided acknowledging Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
Vanunu exposed the Israeli nuclear arsenal in 1986. He was released in April 2004 after serving an 18-year sentence, most of it in solitary confinement. Vanunu is available for a limited number of interviews. He said today:
* “The U.S. goes to Iraq in the name of fighting against weapons of mass destruction while it does not even acknowledge Israel’s capacity. The obvious thing to do is to ensure that all states in the region — including Israel and Iran — do not have nuclear weapons.”
* “Israeli governments which have been behind building these nuclear weapons are betraying the Israeli citizens, the Arab community and all of humanity. Israel has been building nuclear weapons, they now have enough material for hundreds of atomic bombs. I was a technician at the Dimona plant; my main job was making lithium-6 for use in hydrogen bombs. There is no justification for Israel having hydrogen bombs.”
* “In 1986 I was kidnapped by Israel in Rome after revealing its massive nuclear arsenal to the London Sunday Times. I was sentenced to 18 years because I revealed the truth to the world. I suffered 18 years of cruel, barbaric treatment under the Israeli authorities. I’m glad to have some freedom now, but I’m not allowed to speak to any foreigners or to go to any other country for one year. I would like to go to the U.S. where there are more freedoms. I do not feel safe in Israel, I have been threatened, I’m called a traitor in the street. Especially because I have become a Christian, I do not have equal human rights. The Israeli government and media have built a very bad image of my case here.”
* “With its nuclear weapons, Israel is much more aggressive, so it doesn’t move to a real peace with the Palestinians or Syria or Lebanon or Jordan. Its nuclear weapons are used as political power. Without even using them, the nuclear weapons help Israel do what it wants so it doesn’t respect international law. When he was defense minister, Sharon destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 so that no other country in the region would have nuclear weapons.”
Recent interview with Vanunu
More on Israel’s nuclear arsenal
Director of the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Cochran wrote the paper “The Relevance of Mordechai Vanunu Disclosures to Israel’s National Security.”
From the State Department briefing, September 16, 2004:
QUESTION: Larry Franklin’s case had to do with presidential policy on Iran, for the most part, according to news reports. Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower, has been urging for some time that there be a trade-off between the Iranian nuclear program and the ending of the Israeli one. And there has been, as you know, negotiations in Jerusalem on that, or some information from IAEA has been transmitted to the Israeli government. Now, I wondered what the U.S. attitude is in Vienna at the IAEA on this subject of trading off Israeli nuclear program and the ending to it, whatever —
BOUCHER: I guess that’s being speculated about in the press, but that is not the issue in Vienna. The issue in Vienna is whether Iran has for almost two decades hidden covert programs designed to make nuclear weapons and whether or not Iran has complied with the obligations — the requirements of the Board of Governors’ resolutions, the requirements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the protocols that Iran has — well, I’m not sure of the status of the additional protocol, but the requirements of the treaty, and the commitments that Iran itself made. That’s the matter that’s before the International Atomic Energy Agency and that nations are currently discussing now.
QUESTION: Does the United States, then, feel that the Israeli nuclear program, which is now out — Avner Cohen has written a full book on it, Mordechai Vanunu spent 18 years in jail because of it. It’s obvious that they do have such a nuclear program. Does the United States consider that that’s absolutely essential to Israel’s security?
BOUCHER: I’m not making judgments or presumptions about that. We’ve had a view on the universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that we’ve expressed many times, that applies in all cases.
QUESTION: But Israel is not a member, has refused to be a member.
BOUCHER: That’s right. We encourage all nations to be members and adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167