Irregularities at Dimona Nuclear Center Being Kept From Public Eye

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Dimona nuclear reactor - AFP - January 2012
The nuclear reactor near Dimona.Credit: AFP

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira recently submitted a classified report revealing serious problems at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona and its subsidiary, Rotem Industries, but the material is being kept from the public even though most of it has nothing to do with national security, Haaretz has learned.

Most state comptroller’s reports are submitted to the Knesset. But by law, the comptroller can opt not to do so if the government recommends classifying a given report on the grounds that it could undermine national security or the country’s foreign relations. If so, the report is made available to only two Knesset members – the head of the Knesset’s State Control Committee and the head of its Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

In this case the two are, respectively, Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) and Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), who will discuss the report in a forum known as the “committee of two.”

The Prime Minister’s Office decided to recommend classifying this report, which was submitted two weeks ago, on the advice of the Defense Ministry’s head of security. The latter objects in principle to publishing any comptroller’s report on either the Dimona reactor or the one in Soreq.

Currently, Shapira doesn’t intend to publish any portions of the report, or even an unclassified summary. Haaretz asked the Defense Ministry whether its head of security planned to permit any such partial publication, but a ministry spokesman replied merely that the ministry “could not comment on state comptroller’s reports that weren’t cleared for publication.”

The comptroller’s office has been working on the report for about four years. It deals mainly with the period when Rotem Industries was run by Dan Peer.

A source familiar with the report told Haaretz that “most of it isn’t connected to national security, but to proper administration and conduct, with the exception of one topic.”

The comptroller’s office said that by law, it couldn’t comment on the issue.

Previous comptroller’s reports on the Dimona reactor, which were also classified, dealt with the reactor’s employment of advisors via Rotem Industries, its commercial relations with Rotem and with other government agencies or companies, and various other issues. In preparing the current report, one issue the comptroller investigated was the privatization of one of Rotem’s commercial activities, selling safety equipment, by creating a new private company, Rotem Health and Safety.

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