A BBC documentary, “Israel’s Secret Weapon,” which first aired in 2003 just weeks before the start of the war in Iraq, examines Israel’s nuclear weapons program, the secrecy in which it has always been shrouded, and the ruthless measures through which Israel’s “nuclear taboo” is enforced. The film reveals:
The brutality with which Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s most famous political prisoner has been treated. By the time this film was made, Vanunu had been held in solitary confinement for longer than any prisoner in the West.
The mafia-like power wielded by the ulta-secret Yechiel Horev, who as Director of Security of the Defense Establishment was committed to ensuring that Vanunu never be permitted to leave Israel.
The deception through which Israel concealed the most sensitive areas of the Dimona nuclear facility from scrutiny by American inspectors.
The cover-ups and threats that have forced injured Dimona workers to maintain their silence about accidents, injuries and sickness caused their exposure to nuclear materials.
Israel’s biological and chemical weapons program that appears to have involved the use of chemical weapons in Gaza.
The blanket refusal by members of the Bush administration to discuss any questions relating to Israel’s large stock of weapons of mass destruction just as Washington was insisting that an active WMD program in Iraq (which of course turned out to be non-existent) necessitated war.
On 24 April 2004, which was three days after Mordechai Vanunu was released from 18 years in a windowless tomb sized cell jail for providing the photographic proof and telling the truth about Israel’s clandestine seven story underground WMD Program in the Negev, Uri Avnery wrote:
“Everybody understands that he has no more secrets. What can a technician know after 18 years in jail, during which technology has advanced with giant steps?
“But gradually it becomes clear what the security establishment is really afraid of. Vanunu is in a position to expose the close partnership with the United States in the development of Israel’s nuclear armaments.
“This worries Washington so much, that the man responsible in the State Department for ‘arms control’, Under-Secretary John Bolton, has come to Israel in person for the occasion. Vanunu, it appears, can cause severe damage to the mighty super-power.
“The Americans, it seems, are very worried. The Israeli security services have to dance to their tune. The world must be prevented by all available means from hearing, from the lips of a credible witness, that the Americans are full partners in Israel’s nuclear arms program, while pretending to be the world’s sheriff for the prevention of nuclear proliferation.”
In 2004, Yossi Melman also wrote for Haaretz:
“This is the secret that hasn’t yet been told in the affair: the story of the security fiasco that made it possible for Vanunu to do what he did, and the story of the subsequent attempts at cover-up, whitewashing and protection of senior figures in the defense establishment, who were bent on divesting themselves of responsibility for the failure.
“The 18-year prison term to which Vanunu was sentenced is almost exactly the same period as that in which Yehiel Horev has served as chief of internal security in the defense establishment [who has been] involved in the affair as deputy chief of security at the Defense Ministry, and also after Vanunu’s abduction and arrest, as a member of an investigative commission.”
Melman described Horev as devoted to duty and bland, petty and acutely suspiciousness, but also a man of personal integrity with a desire to expose corruption and failures coupled with a penchant for vengefulness.
“The affairs of the secrets that leaked from the two places considered Horev’s holiest sites – the Biological Institute, which produced a senior spy in the person of Prof. Marcus Klingberg, and the Dimona nuclear plant, about which secret information was revealed through Mordechai Vanunu – were formative events in the development of his world view. Shortly after taking office as chief of security at the Defense Ministry, Horev began to take punitive measures to hobble Vanunu. He is responsible for the harsh conditions in which Vanunu was held, which included years in solitary confinement, and the sharp limitations on the number of visitors he could have…[and has fought] a rearguard battle to prevent Vanunu from leaving Israel and to place him under supervision and restrictions that will be tantamount to house arrest. Horev has always been considered the strictest of all the security chiefs in Israel, especially in regard to the protection of institutions such as the Dimona facility and the Biological Institute. He is apprehensive that if Vanunu goes abroad, he will continue to be a nuisance by stimulating the public debate over Israel’s nuclear policy and the nuclear weapons he says Israel possesses…all the hyperactivity being displayed by Horev and those who support his approach is intended only to divert attention from what has not yet been revealed: the security blunders and their cover-ups.”
In a 2003, BBC documentary Peter Hounam stated, “Vanunu told the world that Israel had developed between one hundred and two hundred atomic bombs [in 1986!] and had gone on to develop neutron bombs and thermonuclear weapons. Enough to destroy the entire Middle East and nobody has done anything about it since.”
In 2005, Vanunu told me:
“President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons. Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection.
“When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.
“Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”
On March 26, 2006, Vanunu told me:
“Many journalists come here to the American Colony, from CNN and NY Times. They all want to cover my story, but their EDITORS say no…CNN wants to interview me; but they say they can’t do it because they don’t want problems with the Israeli censor. BBC is doing the same thing.
“Sixty Minutes from the United States from the beginning they wanted to do a program, but because of the censor situation they decide not to do it. Also big media from Germany, France, Italy, Japan. None of them wants problems with the Israelis.”
I began the taping of “30 Minutes with Vanunu” with this question: “If the British Mandate has expired why not the British Mandate’s Emergency Defense Regulations?”
Vaunu replied, “The reason given is security but it is because Israel is not a democracy unless you are a Jew. This administration tells me I am not allowed to speak to foreigners, the Media, and the world. But I do because that is how I prove my true humanity to the world. My freedom of speech trial began January 25, 2006 for speaking to the media, the same day as the Palestinian elections.”
View that interview and learn all about Vanunu’s Freedom of Speech Trial @ http://www.wearewideawake.org THE VANUNU SAGA 2005-2010!