Peres to ‘TIME’: Dimona suspicions helped achieve Oslo Accords

Retired veteran statesman tells TIME magazine that Arab suspicion over the Dimona nuclear center helped bring about the 1993 agreements on the peace process.

Former President Shimon Peres talks to the press after meeting with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House during his presidency last June (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former President Shimon Peres talks to the press after meeting with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House during his presidency last June
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona helped spur the signing of the Oslo Accords between the Jewish state and the PLO in 1993, Shimon Peres told TIME magazine.
Regional conjecture over rumored nuclear weapons work at the Negev Nuclear Research Center was a factor in reaching the historic agreements on the peace process, the former president indicated in an interview published Tuesday.
“Dimona helped us to achieve Oslo. Because many Arabs, out of suspicion, came to the conclusion that it’s very hard to destroy Israel because of it, because of their suspicion,” Peres said with reference to the controversial peace process he helped initiate as foreign minister.
Israel has maintained a policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to confirm or deny possession of atomic weapons.
When questioned about Israel’s nuclear capability, Peres asserted that “we’ve never threatened anybody with nuclear bombs, and we’ve never tested it.”
When asked whether suspicions over Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities might have caused Iran to seek its own such arms, the 92-yearold stressed that human beings make arms races, not the weapons themselves.
Pointing toward Iran, he ascertained that threatening calls for death and destruction create dangerous situations that are not present with weapons alone.
“For example, if Switzerland would try today to have a nuclear bomb, I’m not sure people would be very concerned,” he told the weekly magazine.
“But when you have ayatollahs who call for the destruction of Israel and even for the destruction of the United States of America – ’the big Satan and the small Satan’ – that is a very dangerous combination.”
Peres met on Tuesday with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power with whom he discussed both regional issues and the global agenda.
On her first visit since taking up her present role, Power came to hold meetings with government officials and to discuss global issues relevant to both the US and Israel.
She also came to participate in the Model UN debate held on Monday at the American International School in Even Yehuda, where she told the young students who are mostly the children of foreign diplomats stationed in Israel how they could help the UN to live up to its own core principles including fighting bias and injustice.
In acknowledging UN bias against Israel, Power said Israel is not treated like other countries. There are legitimate reasons for criticizing Israel, she said, but anti-Israel bias at the UN has extended way beyond Israel as a country.
She cited as an example the UN’s refusal to accept the ZAKA emergency organization as a member.
ZAKA had consistently applied for four years and the application was denied each time until January this year when the organization received official consultative status.
Peres told Power at the start of their meeting that her visit to Israel in these difficult times, was important and signified the strength of the relationship between the US and Israel.
Power responded that it was wonderful to be at the Peres Center, and that she was honored to meet him.
This was her fourth day in Israel on this trip, she said, as she enthused about meeting inspiring young students and civil society leaders.
Power also referred to the need to restore hope for peace among the citizens of the Middle East: “Hope is not limited to one field or a place,” Peres observed.
“The problem is that we are unable to break free of the habits, prejudices, and hatred of the past.
Until we are able to break away from them, not many possibilities and courses of action are open before us.”
On Monday, Power, accompanied by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, called on President Reuven Rivlin who asked her to tell PA President Mahmoud Abbas that he must understand that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved only through direct negotiations without a solution being imposed on either side.