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Israel to Extend Vanunu Restrictions by 12 Months

Tue Apr 19
Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=8220577

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's interior minister said on Tuesday he would ban nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu from leaving the country for a further 12 months due to concerns he could harm national security.

Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz told Army Radio he would prevent Vanunu from obtaining an Israeli passport necessary to leave the country for another year, saying Vanunu had more nuclear secrets to spill.

" He collected enormous amounts of information, a large part of which is still relevant, I am sorry to say ... (and) he says 'the moment that I can, I will publish it', Pines-Paz said.

" When a man says that he will harm national security, where does that leave us? ... (This is) a preventive step and we have no choice but to use it."

Vanunu was released from prison last April after serving an 18-year sentence for revealing to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper nuclear secrets collected from years of work as a technician at Israel's Dimona atomic reactor.

The 50-year-old former nuclear technician has said that he has no additional information about Israel's nuclear program and wants to leave the country and start a new life abroad.

Vanunu is also on trial for violating the terms of his release in which he was forbidden from speaking to foreign reporters. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to two years.

The information and photographs of the Dimona reactor that Vanunu passed on to the Sunday Times has led foreign experts to conclude that Israel has as many as 200 nuclear warheads.

Israel maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity in which it refuses to confirm or deny whether it has nuclear weapons.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


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