[News] Ex-Mossad chief: option of killing Vanunu was on our m inds  

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Fri Feb 6 09:10:51 EST 2004

Ex-Mossad chief: option of killing Vanunu was on our minds

By Reuters  via Ha'aretz Feb 5, 2004


JERUSALEM - Israel's spy agency considered killing nuclear whistleblower 
Mordechai Vanunu in 1986 before deciding to abduct him for trial on treason 
charges, a former Mossad director said on Thursday.

Shabtai Shavit, who masterminded a "honey trap" for Vanunu after he told a 
British newspaper about his work at Israel's main atomic reactor, said he 
feared the ex-technician intends to spill more secrets upon his release 
from prison this April.

"I would be lying if I said that thought (assassination) did not go through 
many of our minds," Shavit said, recalling Mossad debates after the Sunday 
Times interview that blew away Israel's policy of ambiguity over its 
nuclear capabilities.

"But Jews do not do that to other Jews. He was a traitor, so in accordance 
with Jewish morality and Jewish law he paid for it with imprisonment," 
Shavit told Reuters.

Vanunu, 49, embraced Christianity and anti-nuclear activism after being 
fired from the Dimona reactor. He spoke to the newspaper on the promise of 
undisclosed payment.  It is my understanding that Vanunu did not ask for 
payment nor did he receive any in return for the information he provided to 
the British newspaper.  -  ew       In jailhouse letters he has vowed to 
keep campaigning to expose Israel's non-conventional capabilities.

Vanunu's revelations, and 60 accompanying photographs, led independent 
experts to conclude Israel had between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads - 
making it a military superpower.

Israel has adopted a policy of nuclear "ambiguity," not denying or 
confirming whether it has nuclear weapons.

Absent from the interview were the names of Vanunu's former colleagues at 
Dimona and details on security precautions at the site. Fearing these could 
also become public knowledge when Vanunu winds up his 18-year jail term on 
April 21, Shavit has been calling for Vanunu to be legally silenced.

"I propose gagging this man," said Shavit, who retired from Mossad in 1996 
and now chairs the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism at 
the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. "The main consideration should be 
his intent to go on causing damage to Israel. And who will guarantee that 
he will only speak the truth? What is to stop him imagining things?"

According to security sources, the Justice Ministry might confiscate 
Vanunu's passport to prevent him leaving the country, subjecting any press 
interviews he gives to military censors. Attempts by him to discuss state 
secrets could mean a new trial.

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