Israel's Dimona reactor generates worries on both sides of border

Monday, September 20, 2004

CAIRO Egypt has installed 17 stations near the border with Israel in an effort to monitor radiation from the Dimona reactor, said to be the production facility for Israel's nuclear weapons.

Egyptian officials said the stations were placed along the eastern Sinai Peninsula as part of a network to monitor radiation from Dimona.

The Dimona reactor has generated environmental concerns on both sides of the border. Over the last few years, Egypt has frequently complained that the 40-year-old Dimona reactor marked an environmental danger.

In August, Israeli authorities distributed anti-radiation tablets to residents in the area of Dimona, Middle East Newsline reported.

Ali Islam, director of the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority, said the nearest radiation-monitoring station in the Sinai Peninsula was 73 kilometers from the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Islam said Egypt has also operated mobile units, for installation on either aircraft or vehicles, that could detect radiation directly along the Egyptian-Israeli border.

So far, officials said, Egyptian authorities have not obtained evidence of unusually high radiation levels from Israel. They said the monitoring network could detect any change in radiation levels within an hour.

Officials said Egypt has also established a radiation monitoring center in Taba, adjacent to the Israeli port city of Eilat. They said the Taba facility was meant to support the Egyptian monitoring network during an emergency.

Israel, which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has refused to submit Dimona to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Western analysts said Israel has developed between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads in Dimona.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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