Israel's nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu requested on Thursday for his name to be removed from a shortlist of candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize because President Shimon Peres had received the award.
Vanunu said in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee that he did not wish "to belong to a list of laureates that also includes [President] Shimon Peres, the man behind Israeli atomic policy."
The nuclear whistleblower was convicted of treason and imprisoned for 18 years after telling a British newspaper in 1986 about his work as a technician at Israel's main atomic reactor, disclosures which cracked the secrecy around the assumed Israeli nuclear arsenal.
Human rights organizations have put Vanunu's name forward for the prestigious prize every year since he was released from jail in 2004.
Vanunu added: "Peres established the reactor in Dimona and developed Israel's nuclear weapons program... In the same way as Pakistan's [nuclear scientist] Dr. Khan, Peres was the man behind the proliferation of nuclear weapons in South Africa and other states. He was also behind the nuclear test in South Africa in 1978."
Peres won the 1994 award together with then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the peace talks in which he participated as foreign minister that resulted in the Oslo Accords.
Israel has never confirmed or denied having a nuclear weapons program. But outside experts have said it has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, which Peres is believed to have been instrumental in developing.