Mordechai Vanunu Speaks about
Space Weapons and Nuclear Weapons
Jerusalem, August 27, 2004
Mordechai Vanunu was a technician at Dimona, Israel's secret nuclear facility, from 1976 to 1985. He discovered nuclear weapons were being secretly produced and in 1986 he leaked photos and information to the London Sunday Times showing Israel had stockpiled about 200 hundred nuclear warheads, with no authorization from its parliament or citizens. At that time Israel was insisting it would not introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East.
Vanunu was kidnapped by the Israeli Mossad in Italy and returned to Israel for a secret trial. He spent 18 years in prison, including 11 years in solitary confinement. After completing his sentence he was released in April 2004 and ordered not to speak to foreigners or leave the country. He has received death threats and has been given refuge at the Anglican cathedral of St George's in East Jerusalem.
An American member of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org) was visiting the West Bank and East Jerusalem; Vanunu agreed to speak with the GN member, defying his court order, and gave permission for his interview to be distributed on the Internet.
Question: Are you familiar with plans to move the arms race into space?
Vanunu: Yes, this is open information that was available to read from the news media and was available to me in the prison years. I knew about the Cassini case and now I know about the new initiative by George Bush to develop nuclear weapons for the space program. This was also worked on in the Clinton administration. George Bush raised it again. I hope this program will not materialize and not be developed. We don't have any enemies in space and the US does not have any enemies. We don't need any nuclear weapons in space or any nuclear race in space.
Question: Do you feel weapons in space are dangerous?
Vanunu: Yes! We don't need nuclear weapons in space! We are alive to see space and enjoy the sky, not to be frightened from the sky. People should raise their eyes and look to the sky and heavens and enjoy and feel God and the love of God, not to fear nuclear weapons. No other state should follow the US and play this game of weapons in space.
Question: Are you familiar with the nuclear power reactors that are planned to be used to provide power for space-based weapons?
Vanunu: No, I don't know much about this, only some things I've read. Cassini was a spacecraft with a reactor working with plutonium.
Question: Are you familiar with the joint Israeli/US system to create a missile defense system called the Arrow system? This would give, they say, both a sword, as a weapon, and a shield, as a defense, to Israel.
Vanunu: Yes, I heard about this. In the last two days the latest Arrow test failed. Israel tries to create an environment where it needs missiles, enemies to fight, all this propaganda to keep up the race, to develop these nuclear weapons and a new generation of missiles. They encourage and push other states like India, Pakistan and Iran to follow. We should tell them and tell Israel that we, the world, are living in a new age, a new century, post-Cold War. The last century had a lot of weapons and wars. This century should be a century of peace and disarmament of all kinds of weapons. All missiles should be destroyed. We need to have a new century of peace, of human beings living in peace that don't need any kinds of weapons. No one is going to fight Israel and no one is going to fight the United States. The human race needs to learn to live in peace and to work together. We don't need any weapons.
Question: What are the enormous military expenditures over time doing to the Israeli economy?
Vanunu: Thirty percent and more, maybe fifty percent of the Israeli budget is for defense. All this money on defense is coming from not giving to others what they deserve in life — high education and high health — especially the minority Palestinians in the occupied territories. Instead of giving them help, Israel spends the money on the army and incursions and fighting the Palestianians. The way to peace is also by reducing the defense budget, reduce it on a large scale. The same with the United States. Since George Bush has been in office he has raised the budget from $280 billion to $400 billion. All this is not necessary in this age. The defense budget is one of the most powerful ways to impose on people psychologically and through policies, in Israel and the United States. The people behind the very large defense budgets are the new modern secret power. We should fight it by reducing the defense budget in every country. Many countries in Europe have had to reduce their defense budgets, armies and weapons systems. Israel has continued to keep its large weapons program, in spite of the fact that we are living in a different age. We the people should be free from the defense budget. We should be able to use it and control it and hopefully in the future reduce it to a very small amount, maybe 5%.
Question: What advice would you give to activists in the US who see our country becoming more militarized and having less democracy? How can we best make an impact on our government when corporations are increasingly controlling it, military corporations like Boeing and Lockheed?
Vanunu: This is my advice to those in the US who are working for peace, who want to control those industries behind the huge production of weapons systems and nuclear weapons. Demand to reduce the large army power, the amount of weapons, the budgets sent to these huge defense corporations. Try to force government from developing new and more advanced weapons, more advanced aircraft, more advanced submarines, because there are no future enemies who are going to fight them. Maybe there are states who are competing economically, in health and social standards, but not in weapons. There is no enemy who wants to destroy Israel or the US. The human race has learned that they do not want to kill each other. They want to compete, develop, they do not want to kill each other. We should fight by demanding a reduction to all these weapons and the weapons industry. The companies behind it, like Boeing and Lockheed, they should go into civilian production for the US and for the world.
Question: You have expressed you would very much like to come to the US.
Vanunu: I believe in the US Constitution, I believe in US democracy and in individual freedom. I believe in the liberty of the US as it was established 230 years ago. The US constitution was the most advanced, it has survived, and I believe it will continue to be advanced. I want to come the United States and be one of your citizens. To give my support to keep the US free spirit, liberty and freedom of speech, which is very important for the US people. I want to live there, to experience it, to support it, especially since 9/11 and the Patriot Act, which is bad for the people. And I hope, that without fighting anyone, that I can contribute to reducing nuclear weapons in the US and the world, with the message that we the people in the US and Israel and all the world don't need nuclear weapons. The US and the US Defense Dept. does not need to fear these views. The US can survive and be good and strong without nuclear weapons. Human rights are more powerful than nuclear weapons.
Question: How can we help you to reach the US and to increase your safety here in Jerusalem?
Vanunu: I would like the people to write to their Congress to demand from them to know about my story and situation. I need activists in the US — people to help intervene. I am not under a sentence by court but under restriction by Israel law which is not according to democracy. They have taken from me the basic human rights of freedom of speech and freedom of movement. The US and Congress has the right to protect these very important human rights. Congress was involved when the Jews in Russia were under these restrictions and the US put sanctions against Russia until they let the Jews leave. Now the US should do the same to Israel. The US should speak and raise these issues. But first of all demand that Israel let me go and be free. I am not safe here. I don't feel safe here.
I would like to bring these matters to Congress. If Congress or visitors can come to visit me here, I would be glad to see them here. Israel is not the democracy that is presented to the US media. The US has the right to intervene and to protect human rights such as freedom of speech.
For more information about Mordechai Vanunu, see:
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