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Home arrow Blog arrow April 2008 arrow April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008
WAWA Blog April 10, 2008: Vanunu's Fifth Year of Restrictions Begins and Norway Caves:
UPDATE: April 14, 2008:

PRESS RELEASE: April 14, 2008

Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Oslo
The International Vanunu Committee

After hectic political discussions within the three-party Norwegian coalition cabinet, the Minister of Immigration, Bjarne Hakon Hanssen, (Labor, Norway´s biggest Party) said last Friday that Mordechai Vanunu is welcome to Norway: " If he gets a job offer here, he will of course get a permit to stay and work in Norway". Vanunu is the nuclear whistleblower who has been Israel´s hostage since his kidnap by Mossad agents from London in 1986.

Confronted with the fact that Vanunu is banned from leaving  Israel by government decree, a member of the cabinet, Aslaug Haga, Center Party leader and former deputy Foreign Minister, admitted that a major diplomatic effort towards Israel will be needed. Then, on Sunday night, a meeting of the National Committee of the third member party of the coalition cabinet, the Socialist Left Party, decided to invite Vanunu to come to Norway in May this year.

- This welcome to Norway does not solve Vanunu´s problem, but is a major step forward, says Fredrik S. Heffermehl, a Norwegian, for the International Vanunu Committee. Up to now our efforts to protect Vanunu´s elementary human rights have received only cold shoulders. After 21 1/2 years the brutalit inhumanity against Vanunu has to stop. Since a secret deterrent is ineffective, Vanunu did Israel a service by documenting the nuclear weapons program. Israel´s illtreatment of him is totally meaningless, unfair and unacceptable from a state laying claim to be a democracy under the rule of law, Heffermehl says.
Vanunu has been exposed to severe inhumanity and human rights violations for 21 1/2 years, first the kidnap, then a secret trial, then 11 1/2 years in strict isolation, and then - at the end of his full sentence - he was not free, but subjected to additional punishment, bans on travel and talk, a grave violation of his basic freedoms under international treaties. Vanunu has done more for a nuclear free world than most of us, and has suffered more for his principled action against an illegal weapon, our

The political breakthrough for Vanunu,  with the three-party coalition government, followed a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, where Vidar Ystad, one of Norway´s finest political journalists uncovered that since 2005 The Norwegian Immigration Authority has held the view that Vanunu fulfilled all requirements for political asylum in Norway and, further, that the former conservative government of Kjell Magne Bondevik had broken the law when its Minister of Immigration, Erna Solberg, presentleader of the Conservative Party, interfered to stop the Immigration Authority from granting asylum to Vanunu.

A former leader of the Conservative party, Kare Willoch, has been adamant that Norway must grant asylum to Vanunu, and a former leader of Labor, now President of Parliament, Thorbjorn Jagland, stated in 2005 that Norway´s Mid-East diplomacy should not bar the country from speaking up for Vanunu.

Fredrik S. Heffermehl, the International Vanunu Committee

For further information: ,
phone: +47 2244 8003 (cell phone: +47 917 44 783)., ("Updates") gives access to a legal briefs by US lawyers, my report on the decision against Vanunu in Israel´s Supreme Court etc.

Fredrik S. Heffermehl
*  Fredrik S. HEFFERMEHL                                                      
*  N. Juels g. 28 A, N-0272 Oslo, Norway                              
*  Phone +47-2244 8003 (Cell: +47 9174 4783)          
*  E-mail:                                   
*  NFR: or IPB:              
*  Hon. President, Norwegian Peace Alliance           
*  Ex Vice President, International Peace Bureau      
*  Vice Pres, Intntl. Assn. Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
*  International Free Vanunu Committee              

[Jerusalem] On April 7, 2008 Mordechai Vanunu, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for the last twenty-two years learned that Israel has continued the restrictions against his right to leave the state or to speak with human beings if they are not Israelis.

On April 9, 2008 it was reported that now Norway has joined Sweden, Canada and Denmark in refusing asylum to Vanunu.

Norway's Bergens Tidende reported "that Vanunu's application for asylum in Norway had in fact been approved by the country's immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet) back in 2004. UDI was overruled, however, by Norway's center-right government at the time. Political considerations, not least Norway's efforts to remain on good terms with Israel and the US, were more important than Vanunu's human rights." [1]

UDI officials have a mandate to make asylum decisions without political interference. UDI officials had determined that Vanunu qualified for asylum and immigration authorities had determined that his application should be granted.

Israel developed its nuclear program with the help of Norwegian heavy water and between 1976 and 1985; Vanunu was employed as a mid level technician and shift manager at the Dimona nuclear weapons facility underground in the Negev desert where it was utilized.

In 1986, Nuclear Physicist, Frank Barnaby was employed by the London Sunday Times to interrogate Vanunu and review the 57 photos he had obtained at various restricted/secret locations in the Dimona. Barnaby spent three days with Vanunu in London before he was lured and abducted by the Mossad from Rome. Barnaby also attended Vanunu's closed door trial and was called by the defense to give expert testimony.

Barnaby testified, "I found the fact that Vanunu was able to smuggle a camera and films into and out of Dimona and photograph highly sensitive areas in the establishment astonishing…I very vigorously cross-examined Vanunu, relentlessly asking the same questions in a number of different ways and at different times…I found Vanunu very straightforward…[After questioning him] about his motives for violating Israel's secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically. Israel's political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel's nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy…The knowledge that Vanunu had about Isreal's nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985 and the design of today's Israeli nuclear weapons will have been considerably changed since then…Modern nuclear weapons bear little relationship to those of the mid-1980."[2]

On a phone call to Vanunu on April 9, 2008, he expressed disappointment but no surprise that political motives were behind the rejection of his Norway asylum application or that, "For the fifth year Israel has continued the restrictions against me. They say I am a danger to their security if they let me go."

Vanunu has not set foot into the Dimona for over twenty-two years and international inspectors never have. America's politicians declare that no option is off the table to stem Iran's nuclear ambitions while the Israeli government fails to secure the health and safety of it own citizens.

In November 2007, the London Sunday Times reported that "Israel put defenses around its Dimona nuclear reactor on 'red alert' 30 times…The the region's largest nuclear plant and sole producer of atomic weapons materials…Dimona is no Chernobyl. It generates only about 5 percent of that failed Soviet reactor's power. Still, the plant - along with its spent nuclear fuel, extracted plutonium, and nuclear reprocessing waste - poses significant radiological hazards that a military strike [against it] could disperse into the environment…during the June 1967 war Israel shot down one of its own Mirage jet fighters when it strayed over the facility. In 1973, Dimona's defenders downed a wayward Libyan civilian airliner heading for the reactor, killing 108 people. But the 1991 Gulf War upset whatever solace Israel could take from the past. Iraqi Scud missiles hit Tel Aviv, and one came close to hitting Dimona. Hizbullah's bombardment of northern Israel in 2006 further demonstrated the country's vulnerability to missile attack…Dimona has produced all the plutonium that Israel reasonably needs, and the reactor - one of the worlds oldest - has suffered minor mishaps and evident deterioration, raising the specter of more serious accidents." [3]

Vanunu had previously informed me that, "The Dimona is 46 years old; reactors last 25 to 30 years. The Dimona has never been inspected and Israel has never signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty but all the Arab states have...Twenty years ago when I worked there they only produced when the air was blowing towards Jordan ten miles away. No one knows what is happening now.

"The world needs to wake up and see the real terrorism is the occupation and the Palestinians have lived under that terror regime for 40 years. When I decided to expose Israel's nuclear weapons I acted out of conscience and to warn the world to prevent a nuclear holocaust."

"Israel is only a democracy if you are a Jew."

During our April 9, 2008, phone call, I asked Vanunu if he thought that Israel had intended to drive him insane during his solitary confinement and had hoped to make an example of him to others who might speak up about Isreal's WMD Program.

Vanunu agreed and also added that he believed Israel had hoped he would end up homeless for he has not been employed since 1986. Vanunu is dependent on friends and supporters to eat and pay his lawyers. Since April 2004, Vanunu has lived in a guestroom at St. George's Cathedral, a hostel with twelve others packed into one room and is currently sheltered in a $10.00 a night hotel.

I also asked Vanunu if it were true that just prior to his release from 18 years in an Israeli jail, John Bolton then Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the George W. Bush Administration traveled to Israel to demand they not allow Vanunu to leave Israel because it would embarrass this Administration that was hunting for WMD's in Iraq while ignoring them in Israel.

Vanunu replied, "I heard this too, but I cannot prove it."

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East but has a policy of neither confirming nor denying its arsenal. American corporate media and politicians play along; as they also do that Israel is a democracy.






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