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Israel's Nuclear Weapons--The Secrecy Must Stop

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Message Joe Parko

First we went after non-existent nuclear weapons in Iraq and now we are consumed with the possibility that Iran might develop a nuclear weapon sometime in the future. The question that must be asked is: Why might Iran want a nuclear weapon? The answer is that Israel has dozens of nuclear weapons aimed at Iran. What nobody wants to talk about is the fact that Israel has had a secret nuclear weapons program for over 35 years that has produced at least 200 nuclear bombs. Ever since Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician, confirmed the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons program with his photographs of the secret underground bomb facility that were published in the London Sunday Times in 1986, the world has known that Israel has been making nuclear bombs but has pretended that they do not exist. Israel continues to publicly deny that it possesses nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

I talked with Mordechai Vanunu in Jerusalem in 2005 and here are my notes from that interview:

"I worked from 1976 to 1985 at the Israeli secret underground nuclear weapons production facility at the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert. During my time there, I was involved in processing plutonium for 10 nuclear bombs per year. I realized that my country had already processed enough plutonium for 200 nuclear weapons. I became really afraid when we started processing Lithium 6 which is only used for the hydrogen bomb. I felt that I had to prevent a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East so I took 60 pictures of the underground nuclear weapons processing plant some 75 meters under the Dimona plant. I resigned my post and left Israel in 1986. I first went to Australia and then made a connection with the Times in London. After a group of nuclear scientists verified my photos as proving Israeli nuclear weapons production, my story was published in England. A few months later, I was kidnapped by the Israelis in Rome and sent secretly by ship to Israel where I was subjected to a closed military trial without counsel. I was sentenced to 18 years in prison. I spent 12 years in solitary confinement. Now I am trapped inside Israel and I'm being threatened with more prison time for speaking to people like you. I want to leave Israel and come to America where I can live as a free human being."

(Note: Vanunu was released from prison in April 2004 but was prohibited from leaving Israel. The Israeli government continues to keep him in Israel against his will. He has just been sent back to prison for three months for contacting a foreigner without permission of the government.)

The fact of the matter is that Israel is using nuclear blackmail against America. Israel is saying that if we don't agree to attack Iran, then they will attack and use their nuclear weapons if necessary. Israel is determined to keep its monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and is using its nuclear arsenal to force the U.S. to support its demand to attack Iran. It's time for our government to refuse to be blackmailed into an attack that would completely destabilize the Middle East and destroy our efforts to bring peace to the region. Our government has been working since 1995 toward a nuclear-free Middle East and the use of our armed forces to attack Iran in order to preserve Israel's nuclear monopoly would be disastrous for America. An attack on Iran would engulf the region in a horrific war, cut off our Middle East oil supply, send the price of gas skyrocketing to over $10 a gallon, and plunge our nation into a catastrophic economic crisis.

It is time to deal openly with Israel's nuclear weapons. We need to recognize that the epicenter of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East is located at Israel's secret bomb factory 250 feet underground at the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert. If we do not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, then we must assure them that Israel will not use its nuclear weapons against them. Israel continues to refuse to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international surveillance of its Dimona plant. The U.S. must join with the international community in opening Israel's nuclear weapons program to inspection and monitoring. The only way to secure a nuclear-free Middle East is to have every nation in the region play by the same book of rules and this must include Israel.

America has supported Israel as our friend since its founding back in 1948. Now it is time for Israel to act as America's friend by supporting our peace efforts in the Middle East. Israel needs to do several things to demonstrate their friendship for America. First, Israel must sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and join our efforts to secure a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. As long as Israel keeps its nuclear weapons hidden away in secret, we will have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that puts America and the entire world in grave danger. Second, Israel must stop building illegal settlements on the West Bank and support our efforts to secure a peace accord between Israel and Palestine. Last, but not least, Israel must let Mordechai Vanunu leave Israel and come to America where we can honor him for his courage in trying to stop nuclear war.

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Joe Parko is a retired college professor who taught in the School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He is a founding member of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition.
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