Daniel Ellsberg Interview: Persecution of Israel’s Nuke Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu Is a Relic of British Colonialism

After 18 years in prison, the man who exposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the world, Mordechai Vanunu, remains restricted under obsolete principles contradicting the UN Charter on Human Rights, prominent whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told Russia Today.

Calling Vanunu a “preeminent prophet of the nuclear era,” Ellsberg stressed that Israel must recognize, for its own good, what Vanunu did was right and come clean about the existence of its nuclear weapons program. The Israeli government should also stop lying to its own people and the world and admit that they were the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East, he added.

Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War to the American media in 1971 and was prosecuted and branded a “traitor” by some for his move, also talked about Vanunu’s ordeal from the perspective of a whistleblower.

RT:Ten years since his release, Vanunu is still under constant government pressure, is in constant fear of arrest. Why is that happening, do you think?

Daniel Ellsberg: I think it’s essentially what they want to be a life-time punishment, in effect, for embarrassing them, actually, in a policy that really can’t be defended in the nuclear era. Is it really legitimate for a country to develop nuclear weapons in secret and continue to maintain the secrecy, then, indefinitely from the world, or pretend to keep that secret? I think not. I think Vanunu did exactly the right thing by telling his fellow citizens, and the rest of the world, that Israel had a large nuclear program. And for that, he served 18 years in prison: 10 and a half in a very small cell of isolation – a 6 by 9 foot cell – what Amnesty called “torture,” essentially, for that long period.

The idea that he’s restricted after serving the full sentence – nothing off for good behavior or any pardon of any sort – after serving the full sentence of 18 the idea that he should be subject to further restrictions about who he can talk to, and whether he can leave the country, is actually a relic of the British colonial policies, when they ruled Israel entirely and they were just incorporated into Israeli law that’s not regarded under human rights legislation anywhere else in the world, actually, as a fair thing to do.

He wasn’t let out a day early. He served the entire sentence, and was then he was given, as I say, these further restrictions as the British occupation regulations had allowed and Israeli law simply continued those into its own law in clear violation of the UN Charter on Human Rights.

RT: For some people Vanunu is a hero, for others, he is the exact opposite. They say he should be put in prison for life. What impact do you think his revelations have had?

DE: Well, I can’t say that his revelations affected Israeli policy, though they should have, I think. Many Israelis feel that they should have been honest and open about their nuclear policy many years ago, and right now are still saying that. He’s called a traitor. I was called a traitor, though not charged with that under the American constitution. Virtually everyone, I think, who gives out truth that the officials, the government doesn’t want revealed, gets that terrible name. If you’re not willing to be called names, you really can’t tell the truth, I would say, about wrongful things your government is doing. And I’m speaking here not so much about the Israeli nuclear program, as about the fact that they have lied about it ever since.

RT:Has it been effective in the sense that he was the first to publically speak out about the alleged existence of the Israeli nuclear program? Has it been effective in that it’s inspired others to follow his lead?

DE: I’m glad that it has. Actually, there were those who felt at the time that he had improved Israeli security by making it clear to their neighbors that they were confronting a nuclear state – something I think they were, on the whole, even the government, was happy to have out. But they wanted to “A” – punish the person who had taken it on himself, the initiative to reveal that, and discourage other whistleblowers. And, on the other hand, they wanted to continue their policy of the so-called “ambiguity,” which is just a policy of lying to the public – to their own public and to the world. By the way, they’ve said forever they would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East – they’ve said that over and over. That’s simply a flat government lie. No better, no worse than lies by my own government, or any other government.

RT:Now, Vanunu is not even allowed to leave the country. The government says he could still reveal more secrets. You can speak from a position of experience here, how you feel about that. Is it legally acceptable, though?

DE: I can’t go on my own judgment on that, but every nuclear expert – which I’m not, I’ve worked on nuclear war plans, but not on design or having to do with nuclear weapons – everyone says that what he knew as a technician in Dimona in 1986, more than 20 years ago, could [not] possibly have any security relevance today. And that that’s just a threadbare excuse for continuing his punishment indefinitely, beyond what even a military type court assigned to him so many years ago.

RT: What’s the stance of other countries when it comes to Israel’s refusal to admit any program of nuclear weapons or any possession? Where do the stand on this? How do they view Israel?

DE: Well, apparently, the fact that Vanunu was given permission to give this interview at all was taken by various media, major media, as indicating a real shift in Israeli policy, and coming very close, at last, to coming clean about what their status is. By the way, what Vanunu indicated was, is that their nuclear stockpile was far larger than even our American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had estimated. He’s described these stories, saying that it was at least 100 weapons. People who’d guessed earlier, thought it was much lower.

Actually, Vanunu was saying at that time that he thought the material was far larger than that, enough for some 300 or more weapons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, to this day, the Israeli stockpile is being very underestimated. That might indicate, for example, that they actually have the third largest stockpile in the world, after the US and Russia, rather than lagging behind France, for example.

RT: How do you think things have changed over the decades that have past? Do you see governments now putting in more controls and more protections to prevent whistleblowers? Is it becoming harder?

DE: Well there are people who can’t be deterred by the threat even of very heavy, indefinite or lifetime sentences. Ed Snowden, obviously, living in exile now, and probably in danger of his life indefinitely, is willing to take on that risk. Chelsea Manning, who is in prison right now, for revealing this. I think all of those, including Vanunu: Let me just say they are my personal heroes. I admire them.

I regard Vanunu as a friend, having met him several times and corresponded with him. I went to Israel to intercede for him in an appellate hearing. I think he is the preeminent prophet of the nuclear era. Someone who not only risked life in jail or death, but actually served a tremendous long time – as I say, 10 and a half years in solitary confinement in 18 years. So, I think he deserves to be honored, really, throughout the world, and he is in much of the world. And to be allowed, certainly, to join his new wife – I’m very happy for her, that they’ve gotten together – to join his wife in Norway and live his life.

But he’s clearly not willing to be entirely muffled on his views about nuclear weapons and his belief, actually, that the nuclear policy of Israel is shortsighted, and dangerous to the state itself, in promoting proliferation to which Israel is very subject and vulnerable. So, I think he should be allowed, not because he’s suffered enough, but because he did exactly the right thing, and it’s time to recognize that.

Reprinted from Russia Today with permission.

9 thoughts on “Daniel Ellsberg Interview: Persecution of Israel’s Nuke Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu Is a Relic of British Colonialism”

  1. In 2005, this American was writing her first historical fiction while in east Jerusalem. I became a reporter after Vanunu told me:

    "The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons. In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, 'The nuclear reactor is only for peace.'

    "When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to '69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.

    "Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year."

    View "30 Minutes with Vanunu" which NOT go through Israeli Censors and was taped a few weeks after Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial began in 2006 and culminated in 78 days back in solitary in 2010 essentially because he spoke to foreign media in 2004! http://thearabdailynews.com/author/eileen-fleming

  2. Why is #inspectdimona not a thing?

    How come Iran can't use the Zionist-Enclave option, and simply "neither confirm nor deny" whether it has a nuclear weapons program… and get away with that?

    Not that the Iranians wish to sit on the fence anyhow… they are signatories to the NNPT, they deny that they're pursuing nukes, and they're being honest: one thing that theocracies take seriously is their own rhetoric, and there is a specific fatwah against nuke weapons development by Khameni (despite false-front orgs like MEMRI seeking to cast doubt on this, it's absolutely irrefutable).

    Several things are clear:
    ? people of aberrant and otherwise-degenerate psychotypes are attracted to political office (including senior positions in the bureaucracy);
    ? these people are relatively easy to identify before they make their actual quest for political office (e.g., when they are at university);
    ? these people are prepared to cross lines (e.g., participate in degenerate behaviour like child molestation) in order to gain entry to the 'Inner Ring' (the next layer of the onion);
    ? all intelligence services have functionaries whose role is to entrap precisely these people.

    So the notion that a significant proportion of the Western political class has been 'honeypotted' at some stage during their quest for political office, cannot be ruled out. (I have personal direct knowledge of one Attorney-General whose daughter's sex tape was used against him for over a decade… these days it would probably get her a reality TV show).

    Anecdotes are not data, but I've asked a few dozen of the people I did honours, masters and PhDs with, if they had ever been encouraged into a situation that could have got out of hand (e.g., drugs, booze, strip clubs).

    Half of them (the top half by academic performance, plus 5 who were genuine political hopefuls) said 'Yes'. None of the ones who are now senior bureaucrats (including two judges) said 'Yes': odd, that – note that they didn't say 'Yes, but I said No'.

    One day someone will leak everything on these vermin: it's already happened with the kiddie-fiddlers (I played a minor role in getting and decrypting the data that is driving the current paedo-hunt: I am intensely proud of that, and there's tens of thousands more names in the data).

    1. because they are signatories to the NPT and its inherent IAEA inspections! Also they are NOT Israel which makes the US the Subservient state, who until very recently was the tail that wagged the dog! This has changed for some in the US Government but not all! What is really needed is US laws that make it illegal for a US elected person to be beholden to another country in deference of the United States! Seriously when you have members of congress say PUBLICALLY that they vote FIRST for what they believe are the BEST interests of Israel and then what is in the best interests of the United States, shows that the person is happy to both act in seditionist and treasonous ways

  3. A lone whistleblower's story requires corroboration. Israel's persecution of Vanunu has provided that corroboration. It's ALL true.

    I wonder if Vanunu knows anything about 9/11.

  4. I find it interminably infuriating that the worlds most degenerate nuclear state not only can get away with this kind of morally derelict behavior but can go on cross continental mass media blitzkriegs blaming totally innocent countries of the same crimes and nobody says jack about it. They get to bully everyone else into following there deranged foreign policy and nobody calls them out, everybody knows but nobody can call them out because they don't wanna be black balled as anti-Semites by AIPAC and these bastards have actually convinced themselves that there somehow honoring the victims of the Holocaust by behaving like the monsters who carried it out!

    Like I said, infuriating.

  5. 'British occupation regulations just incorporated into Israeli law', huh? Is that like British common law incorporated into US law? All the squirmy, mealy-mouthed, weasel words used can't shift responsibility from whom this barbaric behavior really lies.

    1. They were emergency laws introduced at the time of the Arab revolt in 1937, and extended in 1945 when the Zionists were carrying out a terrorist campaign against British forces and Arab villages, and also smuggling in arms and illegal immigrants. They included things such as military courts and indefinite detention without charge. Much of Israel actions in the West Bank are under these laws.

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  7. Could it be that Vanunu has the proof positive that Israel sold Nuclear weapons to the Apartheid state of South Africa and that it was Netenyahu that signed the deal!

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