Winner 2003

Israel’s Secret Weapon

A BBC Correspondent Production

This report, aired on BBC2’s Correspondent series, examines the wall of secrecy surrounding Israel’s production of nuclear weapons materials and devices. Reporter Olenka Frenkiel focuses on the case of Mordechai Vanunu, whose photographs inside the Dimona factory complex in the Negev desert remain the only clear evidence of Israel’s still unacknowledged program to make weapons-grade plutonium and nuclear products. Captured in Rome, Vanunu was returned to Israel, tried in secret, convicted of treason and espionage, and sentenced to eighteen years in prison. He remains there today. Frenkiel’s report, produced and directed by Giselle Portenier, extends far beyond the basic facts of the Vanunu case. She interviews journalist Peter Hounam who first published Vanunu’s photographs and broke the story of the nuclear initiative in 1986; Mary and Nick Eoloff, the peace activists who continue to seek his freedom; and Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu’s attorney. She also interviews former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who makes it clear that all attempts to explore Israel’s nuclear policies, including any re-examination of the Vanunu case, will be blocked. This revealing and disturbing report was broadcast despite strong efforts to keep it off the air. A Peabody Award goes to Israel’s Secret Weapon for its bravery and determination in bringing to light this story of nuclear proliferation.