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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04TELAVIV2327
2004-04-22 14:39:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

VANUNU, UPON RELEASE, CLAIMS U.S. AGENT LURED HIM

Tags:   KNNP  MNUC  PGOV  PHUM  PREL  IS  ISRAEL  RELATIONS  GOI  INTERNAL 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002327 

SIPDIS

UNVIE FOR IAEA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2009
TAGS: KNNP MNUC PGOV PHUM PREL IS ISRAEL RELATIONS GOI INTERNAL
SUBJECT: VANUNU, UPON RELEASE, CLAIMS U.S. AGENT LURED HIM
TO 1986 CAPTURE


Classified By: Pol/C Norm Olsen for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 002327

SIPDIS

UNVIE FOR IAEA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2009
TAGS: KNNP MNUC PGOV PHUM PREL IS ISRAEL RELATIONS GOI INTERNAL
SUBJECT: VANUNU, UPON RELEASE, CLAIMS U.S. AGENT LURED HIM
TO 1986 CAPTURE


Classified By: Pol/C Norm Olsen for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).


1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Immediately upon his April 21
release from prison, "nuclear spy" Mordechai Vanunu charged
that the woman who lured him into a Mossad trap in 1986
worked for the CIA or FBI. Nevertheless, Vanunu told the
press that he would like to emigrate to the U.S. The head of
the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Gideon Frank, defended
the GOI's restrictions on Vanunu's liberty in an April 20
discussion with visiting U/S Bolton, charging that Vanunu is
out to "destroy" the Dimona nuclear facility. In an earlier
discussion with the Ambassador, however, Frank's deputy
accused the head of the MOD internal security service of
acting like a Communist security apparatchik in his campaign
against Vanunu. Recent articles have maintained that the
security establishment is motivated by a desire to conceal
its own bumbling in failing to prevent the original Vanunu
leaks, although an Israeli journalist speculated that
Vanunu's lawyers were peddling this story. In placing
onerous restrictions on Vanunu's liberty, the GOI appears to
be elevating Vanunu's international cult status rather than
protecting its nuclear program or national security. END
SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

--------------
Vanunu Drags the U.S. Into It
--------------


2. (U) Mordechai Vanunu, the former low-level technician at
Israel's Dimona reactor who revealed details of Israel's
nuclear program to the Sunday Times of London in 1986,
claimed, upon his April 21 release from 18 years in prison,
that the woman who lured him into a Mossad kidnapping trap in
Rome in 1986 was an agent of the CIA or FBI, not the Mossad.
Nevertheless, he told Israel Radio -- in English, because he
is refusing to speak Hebrew -- that he would like to emigrate
to the United States, marry, and study and teach history.

Leaving little doubt that he intended to remain a nuisance
for the GOI, Vanunu told a crowd of supporters, opponents and
journalists outside the gates of the Shikma prison in
Ashkelon that he had been mistreated in prison because of his
conversion to Christianity. He also called for opening
Dimona to international inspections.


3. (U) Vanunu's hope to leave Israel will be blocked, at
least for now, by a GOI decision to deny Vanunu a passport.
Vanunu has also been barred from communicating with
foreigners, entering embassies, approaching an airport or
other point of international egress, or talking with anyone
about his experiences at Dimona. He will not be allowed to
leave the city in which he chooses to live, reportedly the
Jaffa section of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, without authorization.
Vanunu reportedly intends to challenge these restrictions in
court.

-------------- ---
Top Nuclear Bureaucrats Split on Handling Vanunu
-------------- ---


4. (C) In an April 20 discussion with visiting Under
Secretary John Bolton, the head of the Israel Atomic Energy

SIPDIS
Commission, Gideon Frank, defended the restrictions on
Vanunu, while acknowledging that they may prove
unenforceable. Frank charged that Vanunu "acted like a spy"
during his last months as an employee at Dimona and that he
clearly still intended to "destroy Dimona." Frank noted that
Vanunu, as a low-level technician, had not had access to a
lot of sensitive information about Dimona, but worried that
Vanunu would simply invent and spread lies. Moreover, Frank
added, not all the information that Vanunu leaked to the
Times had made it into print.


5. (C) Frank's deputy, Eli Levite, expressed a very different
view of the GOI restrictions on Vanunu in a March 3
conversation with the Ambassador. He said that Yehiel Horev,
the head of the MOD internal security department (MALMAB),
whose responsibilities include Dimona, was the driving force
behind the GOI campaign to restrict Vanunu's liberty and had
argued for keeping Vanunu in administrative or home
detention. Noting that Horev had held the same position
since the period of the Vanunu leaks, Levite commented that
Horev had come to resemble "those who held similar positions
for 18 years in former Communist countries." Israel is a
democracy, Levite said, and should therefore leave Vanunu
alone now that he has paid his debt to society.

--------------
Security Service CYA?
--------------


6. (C) Recent articles in Ha'aretz and Yedioth Ahronoth
suggested that Horev and other members of the GOI security
establishment sought to restrict Vanunu in order to prevent
revelation of their lapses in not stopping Vanunu before he
leaked to the Times. In a discussion with emboffs, an
Israeli journalist not involved in either of the reports cast
doubts on this version of events. The fact that two
newspapers ran the story suggested, he said, that Vanunu's
lawyers had been peddling the story.


7. (C) COMMENT: The GOI is only contributing to the
international cult around Vanunu in its continuing campaign
against him. Vanunu's revelations in 1986 did nothing to set
back Israel's nuclear program, and we have difficulty
imagining that anything he says or does today could harm the
program or otherwise damage Israeli national security. As
Ha'aretz defense commentator Reuven Pedatzur wrote, Vanunu is
"a strange man with strange ideas who committed a very
serious crime for which he was tried and imprisoned for a
lengthy period.... Leave Vanunu alone. Simply ignore him.
Don't turn him into a cultural hero."


8. (U) U/S Bolton did not have an opportunity to clear this
message.

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