Israel faces nuclear criticism after South African revelations

By staff writers
May 26, 2010

The revelation that the Israeli government in the 1980s considered selling nuclear weapons to the apartheid regime in South Africa has triggered fresh criticisms of Israel's current nuclear policies.

Documents revealing secret talks between South African and Israeli ministers on the issue were published in Britain's Guardian newspaper following their declassification by South Africa's current government.

The news came just a day after Mordechai Vanunu, who first exposed Israel's nuclear programme, was returned to jail for three months for speaking to foreigners.

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the UK, said "This is yet further proof that despite its policy of ambiguity, Israel is not only an undeclared nuclear power, but an extremely irresponsible one”.

The Israeli government continues to pursue a policy of refusing to say whether or not it owns nuclear arms. But since Vananu's revelations, there has been little serious doubt about the matter.

“The clandestine transfer of nuclear technologies remains one of the greatest threats to world peace and underlines why tacit Western support for Israel's strengthening nuclear arsenal is not only hypocritical but hugely counter-productive,” said Hudson

Both the US and the UK have been accused of inconsistency over their attitude to nuclear weapons in the Middle East, criticising nuclear developments in Iran while apparently taking a much softer line with Israel.

Hudson denied that the negotiations between Israel and apartheid South Africa were of only historical interest.

"The Israel/South Africa deal may have been in the past,” she said, “But Israel's current status as one of only four states outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty means its activities still remain immune from the rigorous inspections clearly needed".

CND urged the UK's new government to take practical action towards its declared goal of a nuclear-free Middle East by supporting the recent proposal of a regional conference on the issue.

Hudson concluded, “It turns natural justice on its head that the man who exposed the truth of Israel's clandestine nuclear programme has just been returned to jail for three months, whilst the man who negotiated the arms transfer with the apartheid regime, Shimon Peres, is now President of Israel and feted by world leaders”.


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