Monday, May 24, 2010

Nuclear whistleblower sent back to jail as more evidence indicts the Nobel prize criminal Peres

Mordechai Vanunu

His signature below that of PW Botha

Mordechai Vanunu, the technician from Dimona who blew the whistle on
Israel's nuclear weapons, and spent eighteen years in prison for it,
the first eleven in solitary, is back in prison again.
The 56-year old Israeli is beginning a new three-month sentence
for the "crime" of having unauthorised meetings with foreigners,
one of them being his Norwegian girlfriend.

"I survived eighteen years - I could survive another six",
Vanunu declared defiantly to a Jerusalem district court on Sunday.
"Are you trying to discipline me? You cannot take my freedom
of expression away ... You won't get from me in three months
what you didn't get in 18 years."

"Shame on you, Israel, and the stupid Shin Bet and Mossad spies
who are returning me to jail after 24 years in which I have spoken
only the truth," he shouted, before he was led away.

Vanunu was kidnapped and taken back secretly to Israel after
giving his story about nuclear weapons produced at the Dimona
plant to the Sunday Times in London, in 1986.
During his long years in solitary there were times
when even his family members were not allowed to visit.

Since his release he has been under strict orders as to
where he can go and who he can speak to, and not
allowed to leave Israel. Amnesty International has
now declared Vanunu a prisoner of conscience, saying
the draconian rules which he had allegedly broken can
not be considered "conditions of parole", as the Israeli
authorities claimed, since he had already served his
sentence when these were imposed.

Arrested while meeting his Norwegian friend at a
Jerusalem hotel, Vanunu was initially sentenced to
six months, which was reduced on appeal to three.
Given the option of community service, he asked
to do this in Arab East Jerusalem, where he was less
likely to be harassed or attacked by Zionist thugs,
but this option was refused.

"Shame on you Israel," Vanunu said: "The stupid
Shin Bet and Mossad spies are putting me back in
prison after 24 years of speaking nothing but the
truth. Shame on you democracy, the Knesset,
synagogues and the world media. Shame on you
all the Arabs that are allowing me to be put back
in prison. Shame on you Senate, congress, and the
chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency
for not protecting my freedom. Shame on you all the
world's religions, the stupid spies, the Jews, Christians
and Muslims."

"Everyone knows that Israel has nuclear weapons but
no one
is talking about it," he said. The world doesn't
want nuclear
weapons – not in Israel, not in the Middle
East and not
anywhere in the world."

While Israel's best-known prisoner of conscience is back in prison,
its Nobel peace prize winning president Shimon Peres was trying
to deny clear evidence of his part in agreeing to supply
South Africa with nuclear weapons, back in the days of its apartheid regime
and war on neighbouring countries.

Hitherto secret South African documents obtained by American
academic Sasha Polakov-Suransky include minutes of meetings
between senior officials in 1975. They show that South Africa's
defence minister, PW Botha, asked for nuclear warheads and
Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister, responded by
offering them "in three sizes".
The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing
military ties between the two countries that included a clause
declaring that "the very existence of this agreement"
was to remain secret.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975.
Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week,
The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa.
At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some
of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military
chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong.
He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting
with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully
understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer
on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel.
In it, Armstrong writes:
"In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered,
certain assumptions have been made:
a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured
in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

On 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project
had the codename Chalet. The minutes of the meeting record that:
"Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of
Chalet subject to the correct payload being available."
The document then records:
"Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes.
Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice."
The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the
conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli
sensitivity over the nuclear issue.
It can only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's
memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the
Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly
with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology
only grew over the following years.
South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that
Israel required to develop its weapons.
The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval
commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union.
After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an
agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer
to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads".
Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs.
But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha,
the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military
alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its
own existence:
"It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement..
. shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

Reports of Israeli-South African military co-operation,
such as the supply of fast patrol boats, did start to circulate in the years
after the secret talks, along with allegations of nuclear co-operation,
initially implicating West Germany.
South African-occupied Nambia was a major source of uranium ore,
and during the war there and in neighbouring Angola there were
rumours of Israeli officers, heard speaking to each other in Hebrew
on South African military radio.

It has been suggested that the Mossad may have pointed South
African agents towards Egyptian Jewish communist Henri Curiel
as the source of secret information.
Curiel, who had links to underground anti-Apartheid fighters
as well as making contacts between Israeli
peaceniks and the PLO, was murdered in Paris in 1978.

Israel is believed to have over 200 nuclear warheads, and has
never signed the non-proliferation treaty. Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu has been calling for stronger international
sanctions against Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons plans.
Ironically, Israel might have offered to help Iran acquire nuclear
weapons during the Shah's regime.

Tomorrow, May 25, Pantheon Books in the US will publish
The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship With
Apartheid South Africa, by Sasha Polakov Suransky.

see Chris McGreal report:

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