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There must be a timetable to end nuclear weapons

Interview with Mordechai Vanunu

I asked him about his feelings and actions since his release from 18yrs solitary confinement. He looks well and strong and shows this by his words. He told me that he is not allowed to leave the country for a year. His intention therefore is to live in East Jerusalem among Palestinians and foreigners [many overseas visitors pass through St Georges hostel]. He is unwilling to follow the prescription not to speak to foreigners as he upholds the human right of freedom of speech and expression of views which he was in prison for. 'Israel says I have secrets but I have no secrets, only political views.I have become a Christian expressing views only'. MV says that he has many Palestinian friends who express sympathy with him - 'I encourage them to follow my case'. He follows political rights and the non-violent path and suggests that Palestinians follow the Jesus Christ way of non-violence. 'Israel justifies what it is doing by portraying Palestinians as terrorists.'
He has little sympathy from Israelis though individuals support him. In public no-one speaks against the atomic bomb in Israel. 'Jewish holocaust history makes it hard for Jews to speak out against the nuclear bomb which ended the war.' MV refuses to give interviews to Israeli media as the Israeli government won't give him freedom of speech. 'In the past the local media printed bad things and portrayed me as the enemy of Israel'.
'I speak openly on Israeli nuclear weapons. In 1985 there were reported to be 200 atomic bombs in Israel. My job was to produce plutonium: 40kg each year which is enough for 10 bombs. In the 1980s they started to produce Hydrogen bombs. I brought the information to the Sunday Times with photos. There was no justification for an H bomb. This was proof that the nuclear policy had gone beyond understanding. I decided to tell the world about this'.
'I have no information on the present situation. They must have nuclear submarines: this is reported in the open press. The US and the UK should look for nuclear weapons in Israel not in Iraq. The time has come to end secret cooperation with Israel.'
'There must be a timetable to end nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons in Europe have lost their justification. Against whom should they be used? We want the world free of nuclear weapons.'
I asked MV about the role of the doctors' movement. 'Doctors can tell us about the dangers of this nuclear production and the effects of nw. Doctors can be pioneers of this policy to make the world free of nw. My message is that you received the Nobel prize in 1985: now the mission should be total abolition. Nuclear war was prevented during the cold war: now make the world free of nw. The first step is to disarm the nuclear submarines. There is no justification for them now.'
I asked about his plans for the future. 'After I am allowed to leave the country, I will meet my friends and help the anti-nuclear movement. I will start a normal life and enjoy freedom. I would like to write a book about my experiences. Also I have new ideas on health and how to protect the body. I experienced a collapse of the arteries in prison. This was because of something in the food I was given. They also used a lot of psychological warfare like disturbing my sleep. My answer was to sleep in the day. I made a resolution that I would not eat what they served me - so I could remain in control. I decided I would keep my freedom inside. When I felt angry I would read in a loud voice or sing. I watched myself all the time as I was afraid that my mind will want to commit suicide, but I never thought to do it.. I started writing poems. At times I thought I would lose my mind. I survived because I used my mind and learned about health.'

The international antinuclear movement will gain a strong, honest and determined activist as soon as Mordechai is allowed to leave the country. There could be no reason for the Israeli government imposing these restrictions other than a desire to punish him further.

Tony Waterston
16.7.05

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