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Vanunu tells Al Hayat: Dimona reactor endangers millions

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
25/07/2004

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu says the Dimona nuclear reactor endangers the lives of millions throughout the Middle East, Army Radio reported late Saturday.

In an interview published Sunday with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al Hayat, that a strong earthquake in the region may crack the reactor, causing radioactive leakage that would result in the death of millions.

Al-Hayat claims that this is the first interview Vanunu has given to a newspaper since his release from an Israeli prison in April, Israel Radio reported. If Vanunu did in fact give the interview, it could constitute a violation of the limitations placed upon him by the Shin Bet upon his release from prison. 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.

The former nuclear technician was freed in April after serving 18 years for revealing Israel's nuclear secrets to the Sunday Times of London.

Vanunu went on to say that he told the Sunday Times all he knew and that the information he had "was enough to conclude that Israel presents a real danger to the entire Middle East." He also said that he believes Israel has managed to build up its nuclear arsenal in the years in which he was incarcerated.


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