Premier Says Israel Did Not Break British Laws In Vanunu Case
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said today no British laws were broken in bringing to Israel a technician accused of leaking secrets about Israel’s nuclear capability.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Shamir also said Israel would not rule out attacks against guerrilla bases in Syria and left open the question of whether Israel helped deliver U.S. arms to Iran.
Shamir would not say how the Israeli technician, Mordechai Vanunu, was taken from Britain to Israel where he is being held in solitary confinement.
Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Clifford William Squire, has pressed the Israeli government for an explanation of how Vanunu came to be in Israel after disappearing from England around Sept. 30.
Asked how he would respond to requests for clarifications, Shamir said additional details soon may be disclosed.
″But the British have to know that we did nothing that could be considered a violation of British law,″ he said in the 40-minute interview at his office.
Newsweek magazine reported that Vanunu, 32, had been lured onto a yacht by a girlfriend and then transferred to an Israeli navy ship in international waters.
Vanunu had been dismissed from Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona after 10 years. He gave The Sunday Times in London what he said were photographs and detailed information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program.
The newspaper reported Israel had up to 200 nuclear warheads and had developed its atomic weapons over the past two decades.
Shamir said authorities were weighing whether Vanunu should stand trial before a civilian court or a military tribunal.
The 71-year-old leader of the right-wing Likud bloc leader became prime minister three weeks ago amid expectations that he would adopt a harder line than his predecessor, Shimon Peres. Peres is foreign minister in the coalition government.
On Syria, Shamir said Western Europe might be forced to go beyond limited sanctions and adopt stronger measures if terrorist acts continued.
Shamir said Israel would not rule out retaliation against guerrilla bases in Syria if Damascus supported terrorists.
″I do not exclude it, but I do not say we are going to do it tomorrow,″ he said.
Shamir denied that Israel has sold arms to Iran, but left unanswered the question of whether Israel served as a conduit for U.S. shipments to Tehran.
Asked whether Israel condoned trading arms for hostages, the prime minister said it was a ″dilemma.″