In a startling accusation, nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has alleged that Jerusalem was behind the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, who was exerting pressure on the then Israeli head of state to shed light on the Dimona nuclear plant.
In defiance of a ban on talking to the media and meeting with foreigners, Vanunu is said to have made the accusation in an interview to London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
As per the interview published in newspaper's Arabic supplement Al-Wassat yesterday, Vanunu said according to "near-certain indications", Kennedy was assassinated due to "pressure he exerted on then head of government, David Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona's nuclear reactor".
"We do not know which irresponsible Israeli Prime Minister will take office and decide to use nuclear weapons in the struggle against neighboring Arab countries," he is quoted to have said, adding, "What has already been exposed about the weapons Israel is holding can destroy the region and kill millions."
The whistleblower, who was released in April after 18 years of imprisonment on charges of treason for divulging state secrets, also said that the reactor in Dimona, could become a second "Chernobyl", Israili media reported. He said an earthquake could cause fissures to the core and that would cause a massive radiation leak threatening millions.
Vanunu warned that Jordan should test the residents along the border with Israel for exposure to radiation and give them pills just like the Jewish state decided to do for its citizens.
Criticising the visit of head of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed el-Baradei, to Israel early this month, he said, "He (Baradei) should have refused to visit Israel (because) he was not allowed to inspect the nuclear reactor."
It was not yet clear how al-Hayat did the interview, which the publication claimed is the first with Vanunu since his release. If it turns out that he in fact gave such an interview in violation of the conditions laid down for his release, severe sanctions might be imposed on him.
An Israeli Justice Ministry statement said "the statements that Vanunu made will be examined and if it is determined that he violated the law or his restrictions, then steps against him will be considered."
"The opinions on Vanunu are divided," said Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Some say let him speak and it adds to the ambiguity policy, while others say the more he speaks the more he raises tensions, particularly in the current atmosphere."
Brushing aside the latest allegations, he said that serious people understood that Vanunu was speaking nonsense and his comments on JFK were not worthy of a reaction.