Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons
By Chris McGreal, Guardian, May 23, 2010
Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.
The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.
The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.
The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.
They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.
Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.
See the full story here
In related news,Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu jailed
BBC, May 24, 2010
Mordechai Vanunu, the technician who revealed that Israel had nuclear weapons, has begun a three-month jail term for violating the terms of his release in 2004.
Mr Vanunu was convicted by an Israeli court in December 2009 and sentenced to six months' community service.
He refused, saying he would be in danger of being assaulted by a member of the Israeli public.
The court then returned him to jail instead.
Mr Vanunu spent 18 years in jail for revealing the existence of the clandestine Israeli nuclear programme.
Before being led away he shouted "You didn't get anything from me in 18 years; you won't get anything in 3 months. Shame on you, Israel."
He was arrested on suspicion that he met foreigners, violating conditions of his 2004 release from jail.
His lawyer said his arrest was because of his relationship with his Norwegian girlfriend, not for revealing secrets.
After his release from prison in 2004, the Israeli authorities banned Mr Vanunu from speaking to foreign media and travelling abroad.
In 2007, Mr Vanunu, a Jewish convert to Christianity, was sentenced to six months in prison for breaking the conditions of his parole.