Olmert visits Israeli nuclear site
By MARK LAVIE
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
July 1, 2008
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Israel's main nuclear reactor on Tuesday, setting off a round of commentaries in Israeli media about Israel's intentions toward Iran and its nuclear program.
An official in the prime minister's office would give no details of the visit, which he said was closed to the media.
Israel Army Radio said Olmert got a guided tour of the reactor complex near the southern desert town of Dimona. News of the visit set off a round of commentaries on Israeli radio and TV stations about the possibility of an Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear development program.
Israel has rejected the conclusion of a recent U.S. intelligence report that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program several years ago. Israel considers Iran a strategic threat because of its nuclear program, its long-range missiles and repeated calls by its president to wipe Israel off the map.
Israel favors tough international sanctions to pressure Iran to scale back its nuclear ambitions. But Olmert pointedly has not ruled out an attack.
Israel itself is widely assumed to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons developed at the Dimona facility, but Israel has carefully avoided confirming or denying their existence. Israel's official policy is a declaration that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.
Details and pictures leaked in 1986 to the Sunday Times of London by a renegade former Dimona employee, nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, led experts to conclude Israel has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of warheads.
Vanunu was later kidnapped by Israeli intelligence agents in Rome, brought back to Israel to stand trial, and served 18 years in prison, including 11 in solitary confinement. (Source)
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