VANUNU AFFAIR

VANUNU AFFAIR, case of an Israeli nuclear reactor technician who disclosed Israel's nuclear arms secrets to the London Sunday Times. Mordechai Vanunu (1954– ) was born in Morocco to a Sephardi religious family and immigrated to Israel in 1963. In 1977 he began work as a technican at Israel's nuclear research reactor at Dimonah, attached to Machon 2, where plutonium is separated from uranium. In 1985 he was laid off, moving to Australia. Prior to leaving, he took 57 photographs inside the reactor. On October 5, 1986, the Sunday Times published a three-page disclosure drawing on Vanunu's information. According to the newspaper, Israel possessed 100–200 nuclear warheads, which was much higher than most earlier estimates of the country's nuclear arsenal. It was also claimed that Israel was developing neutron and thermonuclear capabilities. The newspaper arrived at its estimate of the number of warheads on the basis of Vanunu's description of the amount of plutonium produced. Given that the fact that Israel had never confirmed whether or not it possessed the Bomb, Vanunu became the first eyewitness to the nuclear program to speak without authorization. He was abducted to Israel from Europe by Mossad agents and stood trial for espionage and treason. He was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment, 12 of which were served in solitary confinement. In 2004 he was released from prison but prevented from leaving the country. Vanunu, who studied philosophy at Ben-Gurion University while working at the reactor, and converted to Christianity in Australia, said that he leaked the information so that the Israeli public and the world community would know about the nuclear danger. Vanunu became an icon in the international anti-nuclear movement. While the disclosure lowered incrementally the ambiguity surrounding Israel's nuclear program, it generated little international pressure on Israel, most Western governments recognizing that Israel should not be pressured on the nuclear issue at the same time it was being pressured to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Moreover, while most foreign governments adjusted their estimates of Israel's nuclear capability upwards – strengthening Israel's nuclear deterrent posture – not all countries, including the United States, went so far as to accept the Sunday Times' estimates. Vanunu was awarded a number of prizes from organizations promoting anti-nuclearism. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Cohen, Whistleblowers and the Bomb: Vanunu, Israel & Nuclear Secrecy (2005); idem, Nuclear Ambiguity: The Vanunu Affair (1992). (Yoel Cohen (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mordechai Vanunu — Vanunu redirects here. See also Yosef Vanunu. Mordechai Vanunu Mordechai Vanunu in 2009. Born Mordechai Vanunu October 14, 1954 (1954 10 14) …   Wikipedia

  • Lillehammer affair — The Lillehammer affair refers to the murder by Mossad agents of a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer, Norway on July 21, 1973. The agents had been sent by Israel as part of Operation Wrath of God to assassinate Ali Hassan Salameh,… …   Wikipedia

  • COHEN, GEULAH — (1929– ), Israeli politician, member of the Eighth to Twelfth Knessets. Cohen was born in Tel Aviv. Her father immigrated to Eretz Israel from Yemen and her mother was born in Eretz Israel to a family that had arrived there in the 19th century… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories — There are many conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Such theories began to be generated soon after his death and continue to be proposed today. Many of these theories… …   Wikipedia

  • John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories — President Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Nellie Connally and Governor John Connally, shortly before the assassination. There has long been suspicion of a government cover up of information about the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 …   Wikipedia

  • Nuclear weapons and Israel — Israel Nuclear program start date mid to late 1950s[1] First nuclear weapon test Unknown; possible join …   Wikipedia

  • Cheryl Bentov — Cheryl Ben Tov (Hebrew: שריל בנטוב), born Cheryl Hanin in 1960, is an American real estate agent and former Israeli Mossad agent who became well known in 1986 when, under the name Cindy , she persuaded former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai… …   Wikipedia

  • Mossad — For the organization that coordinated pre state Jewish immigration, see Mossad Le aliyah Bet. The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations מדינת ישראל המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים الموساد للاستخبارات والمهام الخاصة …   Wikipedia

  • Operations conducted by the Mossad — The following is an incomplete list of recognized and non recognized operations carried out by Israel s intelligence agency, Mossad, sorted in chronological order. Nikita Khrushchev s speech capture (1956) Mossad capture of a copy of the Nikita… …   Wikipedia

  • 1987 — This article is about the year 1987. For the number, see 1987 (number). For other uses, see 1987 (disambiguation). Millennium: 2nd millennium Centuries: 19th century – 20th century – 21st century Decades: 1950s  1960s …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.