Scientists, Whistle-Blowers and the Vanunu Affair

What should scientists and technicians working in a military research establishment do if they come across classified information that they believe should be made public? If they decide to publish information concerning a clear threat to world security, how should the international scientific community respond? Should it assist whistle-blowers if they are put on trial for breaking the country's secrecy laws? The plight of Mordechai Vanunu dramatically raises all these questions. Vanunu, a 33

Frank Barnaby
Mar 6, 1988

What should scientists and technicians working in a military research establishment do if they come across classified information that they believe should be made public? If they decide to publish information concerning a clear threat to world security, how should the international scientific community respond? Should it assist whistle-blowers if they are put on trial for breaking the country's secrecy laws?

The plight of Mordechai Vanunu dramatically raises all these questions. Vanunu, a 33-year old Israeli, is standing trial in the Jerusalem District Court for treason, aggravated espionage and the collection of secret information with intent to harm Israel's security. Vanunu, a technician at Israel's nuclear power plant at Dimona, gave the London-based Sunday Times newspaper top-secret information about Israel's production of materials for use in nuclear weapons. The Times published the information on Oct. 5, 1986.

Using Vanunu's information one can calculate the possible size and quality of Israel's...

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