Vanunu Returns to Prison and the End of Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity

NEWS, 17 May 2010

Eileen Fleming - Countercurrents

On May 11, 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Mordechai Vanunu, will “serve a three-month jail sentence handed to him by Jerusalem District Court and not community service. ” [1]

The ‘justices’ refused Vanunu’s offer to do community service in occupied east Jerusalem, because they do not view that side of town to be a part of their community.

On April 30, 2007, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, convicted Vanunu on 14 [out of 21] counts of violating a court order prohibiting him from speaking to foreign journalists in 2004. Vanunu was also convicted for traveling the four miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem when he hoped to attend Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity, his first Christmas after being released from 18 years in jail [most of it in solitary] on April 21, 2004.

On July 2, 2007, Israel sentenced Vanunu to six more months in jail for speaking to foreign media in 2004.

On September 23, 2008, the Jerusalem District Court reduced Vanunu’s sentence to three months, “In light of (Vanunu’s) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country’s security in jeopardy.” [2]

On December 21, 2009, Uzi Eilam, an Israeli scientist, Tel Aviv University chemistry professor, former worker at Israel’s Dimona reactor, former member of Israeli parliament, and the former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission told PRESS TV that Vanunu “served the regime because his revelations helped Tel Aviv intimidate others…I’ve always believed he should be let go. I don’t think he has significant knowledge to reveal (about Dimona) now. ”

On May 10, 2010, Uzi Even, spoke on Israeli army radio:

“The policy of nuclear ambiguity, by which we fool only ourselves and nobody else, is not good for us any more. It was good, effective and successful for close to 40 years, but over 40 years many things changed and now I am telling you clearly, this policy is no longer in our interest.” [3]

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded during a foreign affairs and defense committee parliamentary meeting:

“I don’t think there is a real danger or threat to Israel’s traditional position, as it has been expressed over the years. The link between us and the United States is more complex than it may appear.” [Ibid]

Strategic Affairs Minister Dan Meridor told reporters:

“The understanding we have with the United States and other countries for many years has been quite effective. It need not change. ”

Meridor also dismissed as “unimportant” Egypt’s tabling of a motion on Israel’s nuclear weapons status for a June meeting in Vienna of UN watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency:

“From time to time this issue is raised at the IAEA and other places. It’s not the first time it’s mentioned and it’s not the first time we’ll find a way, with the rest of the world, to deal with it.”

But the times are always a’ changing and 2010 could prove to be the year of implementation of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East, which could be the straw to break wide open Israel’s hypocritical and ineffective policy of nuclear ambiguity.

I ncluded in the w orking paper review , submitted to the 2010 NPT Review Conference , Israel’s sacred cows of “Security” as well as the issue of nuclear weapon free zones and the transferring of nuclear materials were all addressed. A ll states possessing nuclear weapons are being called to declare and maintain a moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapons purpose, and to place under IAEA safeguards fissile material.

The Arab League and Iran proposed, “ that states parties should reaffirm the total and complete prohibition of transfer of any nuclear- related equipment, to non-parties to the Treaty, without exception and in particular to the Israeli regime.” [4]

The New Agenda Coalition, composed of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden, are an international consensus making progress on nuclear disarmament. They have been joined by Libya, Egypt, Algeria and China in recommending the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference/REVCON to call on Israel to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the full scope of IAEA safeguards.

The Arab League also called on the UN Security Council “to exert genuine pressure on Israel to implement UN resolutions concerning the establishment of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East.” [Ibid]

Egypt and Algeria also proposed that the “RevCon reaffirm that any nuclear supply arrangement to Israel, related to source or special fissionable material, require it to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.” [Ibid]

Libya proposed that if states engage in nuclear trade with Israel, the embargo on exports of such technology to other states in the region should be lifted and that nuclear weapon states should give assurances that they will honor Article I of the NPT in relation to Israel.

Article I states:

Each nuclear-weapons state (NWS) undertakes not to transfer, to any recipient, nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices, and not to assist any non-nuclear weapon state to manufacture or acquire such weapons or devices.

Egypt, recommend the RevCon convene “an international conference to launch negotiations, with the participation of all States of the Middle East, on an internationally and effectively verifiable treaty for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.”

Libya and the Arab League also invited the UN to convene a conference on the subject and France called for such a conference to be attended by all concerned states, all the states in the region, the other P5 countries who are Great Britain, United States, China and Russia as well as the UN and the IAEA.

Japan and the United Nations University underscored the importance of a coordinated and sustained cooperation with civil society to educate and promote disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation to lead to a global forum that brings together civil society and governments.

Gandhi understood that is not much use to society until one weds society to political action, and so do the people of all faiths who united in a Pre-RevCon Interfaith Convocation organized by leaders from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Religions for Peace, the United Religions Initiative, Pax Christi, and other faith-based peace and justice organizations.

Buddhist, Shinto, Indigenous American, Muslim, and Christian spiritual leaders chanted, prayed and spoke in one voice how “war is contrary to the will of God.” See it here:

President Obama’s National Day of Prayer PROCLAMATION called “for wisdom, compassion, and discernment of justice as we address the great challenges of our time. We are blessed to live in a Nation that counts freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion among its most fundamental principles…[and] let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those people everywhere who join us in the aspiration for a world that is just, peaceful, free, and respectful of the dignity of every human being.”[5]

“Prayer is also the struggle for human justice. It is the fight to remove killing stereotypes, to hurl back ignorance of prejudice, and to protect the holiness of creation. Prayer is the corporate, political act that serves to equalize opportunity so that privileged and underprivileged might have the same chance.” [6]

Thomas Merton, 20 th century Trappist monk poet, social critic and mystic warned Christians that, “The duty of the Christian at this time is to do the one task God has imposed upon us in this world today. The task is to work for the total abolition of war. There can be no question that unless war is abolished; the world will remain constantly in a state of madness. The church [meaning all Christians] must lead the way on the road to the abolition of war. Peace is to be preached and nonviolence is to be explained and practiced.”

In my series of interviews with the whistle-blower of Israel’s WMD program, Mordechai Vanunu told me:

“The Israelis have 200 atomic weapons and they accuse the Palestinians and Muslims of terrorism. The Dimona is 46 years old; reactors last 25 to 30 years. The Dimona has never been inspected and Israel has never signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty but all the Arab states have.

“Twenty years ago when I worked there they only produced when the air was blowing towards Jordan ten miles away. No one knows what is happening now. The world needs to wake up and see the real terrorism is the occupation and the Palestinians have lived under that terror regime for 40 years.

“The only way to peace is peace; the only way is nonviolence. The only answer to Israeli nuclear weapons, their aggression, occupation and oppression, and the wall and refugee camps is to answer them with truth and a peaceful voice. When I became the spy for the world, I did it all for the people of the world. If governments do not report the truth, and if the media does not report the truth, then all we can do is follow our consciences. Daniel Ellsberg did, the woman from Enron did, and I did.

“The United States needs to wake up and see the truth that Israel is not a democracy, unless you are a Jew. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where America can right now find nuclear weapons…Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew.” [5]

American poet, peace activist, Catholic priest and at one time, one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives , Daniel Berrigan understood that,“It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better.”

The times are always a’ changing but the window of opportunity is only open for so long and as 20th century Christian Anarchist, Dorothy Day cautioned: “No one has a right to sit down and feel helpless, there’s too much to do.”

Do Something:

Send Vanunu a message of support through his website @

Reach for nuclear disarmament @






6. Bishop John Shelly Spong, “WHY CHRISTIANITY MUST CHANGE OR DIE” page 147.



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