Speaking of Mordechai Vanunu, the former Dimona technician who revealed sensitive elements of the country’s clandestine nuclear program, Likud MK Avi Dichter said that “in a normal country, a person like this would be rotting in jail, and in other countries he would be rotting in a grave.”
The former director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Saturday angrily scoffed at the notion that Israel should permit Vanunu to leave the country.
Dichter made the remarks to Channel 2
one day after the television network aired a rare interview with Vanunu, during which he pleaded his case to be let free from restrictions that have kept him in Israel against his will.
Vanunu, who was imprisoned for 18 years for divulging secrets related to Israel’s purported nuclear weapons program, gave his first interview to the Hebrew-language Israeli press on Friday.
Vanunu told Channel 2 that his decision to photograph sensitive nuclear facilities at Dimona, revealing information that Israel had kept secret until that point, was motivated by his desire to “inform the citizens of the Middle East, the world, and the state of Israel.”
The former technician said that he had gradually adopted left-wing views during his employment at Dimona, and that he was horrified at “the danger” of Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
Vanunu was caught in 1986 and served his sentence after discussing his work as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor with a British newspaper, an interview that led experts to conclude the facility had produced fissile material for as many as 200 atomic warheads.
After his release from jail in 2004, defenses authorities barred Vanunu from traveling abroad or speaking with foreigners, alleging he has more details on the Dimona atomic reactor to divulge.
The restrictions, upheld by the Supreme Court, have been condemned by international human rights groups.
Vanunu denied he poses a security risk but said he will pursue anti-nuclear activities and wants to live abroad.
In court, Vanunu – who in the past has refused in protest against Israel to speak Hebrew publicly – addressed reporters in English.
“This Jewish state has 200 atomic...hydrogen bombs, atomic weapons, neutron bomb,” he said. “They are not able to say they have the bomb, they are not able to destroy anyone... instead they arrest Vanunu Mordechai.”