Israel’s Snowden

Israeli authorities deny UK visit for nuclear whistleblower

Israels Nuclear Program

Israels Nuclear Program

Published time: June 02, 2014 11:09
Edited time: June 02, 2014 11:52

A decade after his release from prison for leaking information on Israel’s nuclear weapon program, Mordechai Vanunu has been denied permission to attend a human rights conference in London.

Vanunu, who was released in 2004 after spending 18 years in prison for leaking details of Israel’s nuclear program to British media, had planned to visit the UK capital for three days to attend a conference sponsored by Amnesty International and address the British parliament, Haaretz, the Israeli daily reported on Monday.

Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, however, refused to approve the trip. Vanunu petitioned the High Court of Justice to reverse the decision, but judging by previous appeals that does not seem likely.

Since leaving prison in June 2004, the nuclear technician has been forbidden to leave the country or speak with foreigners without permission from the Shin Bet security service.

The High Court has rejected seven successive petitions presented by Vanunu’s lawyers to reverse course. Most recently, in December 2013, the court said the top-secret material they were shown proves that Vanunu “still has a treasure of classified information and hasn’t recanted his intent to disseminate this information.”

In last week’s petition, Vanunu’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, reiterated the argument he has made in previous petitions: their client’s information no longer presents much of a threat to Israel’s national security.

“The information about Israel’s nuclear capabilities that has been published since the petitioner’s release is incomparably greater, both quantitatively and qualitatively, than anything the petitioner could add today, more than 20 years after he stopped working at the Dimona nuclear reactor,” Feldman wrote.

Feldman further argued that preventing Vanunu from traveling abroad actually works more to Israel’s disadvantage because, he said, the petitioner’s failure to appear at the Amnesty conference and the British parliament “would spark international protests against this severe administrative restriction on Citizen Vanunu.”

Although Vanunu is no longer behind bars, his lawyers say he is, for all intent and purposes, still a prisoner.

“It’s true the petitioner was released from jail, but his freedom is still limited,” the petition said. “This is a harsh punishment that has been imposed on the petitioner. It’s not enough that he served a lengthy prison sentence; now, he is restrained, and his freedom limited, as if he hadn’t finished serving his sentence.”

Feldman told Haaretz that – to the best of his knowledge – the constraints imposed on their client has no precedent anywhere in the world. The ban on speaking with foreigners without the security service’s permission “would surely be acceptable in North Korea, but not in a country that defines itself as the only democracy in the Middle East,” he complained.

In 2012, Nobel-Prize winning German poet Gunter Grass praised Vanunu in a poem entitled ‘A Hero in Our Time’, in which Grass describes the former worker at Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility as a “hero” and a “model,” admiring his decision to pass Israeli nuclear secrets to the Sunday Times in 1986.

Meanwhile, Vanunu’s lawyer had harsh words for the High Court for continuing the restrictions for the last decade on the basis of material that neither he nor Vanunu were authorized to see, “and about which it’s doubtful that any of the Supreme Court justices understood anything,” but which they nevertheless accepted as evidence that “Vanunu, who worked at the Dimona nuclear reactor 40 years ago, knows information that would almost certainly endanger Israel’s security.”

Israeli officials, meanwhile, insist that Vanunu’s determination to threaten national security has not subsided, and the information in his possession is still relevant.

Sa’ar wrote in his rejection of Vanunu’s request, “Your client retains the ability to cause… damage, which would be irreversible, via the information in his possession that hasn’t yet been published, and which, as has been proven in court, is still relevant even today.”

Following the failed petition to travel abroad in December, Vanunu’s lawyer said his client merely wishes to leave the country to “marry his girlfriend and live out his life quietly.”

The Justice Ministry said that in accordance with the court’s instructions, it would file a response to the latest petition by June 10.

US Missing the Third Horn (Daniel 8)

Misplaced priorities

A unique kind of atomic power
Pakistan is a major nuclear country. In a short period since 1998 when it conducted experimental explosions Pakistan has acquired the sixth largest arsenal of nuclear warheads in the world. It has also gained the ability to develop more sophisticated tactical weapons with limited fall out for use against invading enemy troops. It has not lagged behind in delivery systems either. It possesses bombers as well as missiles of various categories capable of taking the payload to any part of the enemy territory. As if this was not enough, experiments continue to be made to make the weapons more destructive and the delivery system more efficient.
Pakistan is a unique kind of atomic power. The nuclear state lacks some the most basic requirements needed for economic progress. Sixty seven years after its creation the country suffers from serious deficiencies in physical infrastructure. Load-shedding has continued sometime extending to eight hours in big cities and much longer in the rural areas. The country also suffers from gas shortages which hit the economy as well as millions of households. More than six million Pakistani children are out of primary schools, the highest number compared to any country in the world. The percentage of school going children is below some of the backward African countries. Forty per cent of all Pakistani children are underweight. Six out of 10 children are affected by what is called ‘stunting’ caused by malnutrition. One out of 10 children are affected by ‘wasting’ which is a disease causing muscle and fat wastage as a consequence of acute malnutrition. Four out of 10 Pakistanis are managing to survive below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the population time bomb continues to tick with nobody paying any heed.
The countries which fought two world wars in the 20th century are engaged today in economic and scientific cooperation and have enhanced multilateral trade. This in return has brought peace and prosperity to these countries. It is high time Pakistan reviewed its security paradigm. Cultivation of friendly relations with neighbouring countries will bring down expenditures on arms and ammunition. Regional peace would bring prosperity as a dividend. This would create a win-win-situation benefitting every country in the region. There are no doubt disputes left by history. The way to resolve them is to put the more complicated issues on the back burner for the time being, settle the easier ones first, improve economic relations and let the free flow of trade give birth to a conducive atmosphere where finally complicated issues can be taken up and resolved to every stakeholder’s satisfaction.