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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 19:40 GMT 20:40 UK
Israel shows nuclear plant images
Dimona plant in Israel (aerial photo)
Israel is thought to have about 200 nuclear warheads at Dimona
Israeli authorities have published pictures of Israel's nuclear plant in the Negev desert for the first time.

The images appear on a new website for the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission.

The move came a day before the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog was due in Israel for talks on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone.

Israel has never admitted possessing nuclear weapons, but analysts believe it has around 200 warheads at the plant in the town of Dimona.

Pressure

The pictures reveal little about the site, which has been at the centre of controversy about Israel's nuclear programme.

They are taken at a distance from the building, which is obscured in the photographs by trees and flowers.

Screen grab of Israeli Atomic Energy Commission website
The pictures give little idea what the plant actually looks like
Nor does the website provide any new insight into the programme, saying merely that research at the plant aims to expand knowledge of nuclear science and provide an infrastructure for the use of atomic energy.

Israel has come under pressure to open its nuclear facilities to international inspection.

In December, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei urged Israel - a member of the IAEA - to surrender its alleged nuclear weapons.

But, unlike Iran and North Korea - two countries whose alleged nuclear ambitions have recently come under international scrutiny - Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, designed to prevent the global spread of nuclear weapons.

As a result, it is not subject to inspections or the threat of sanctions by the IAEA.

Israel pursues a policy of what it calls "nuclear ambiguity", saying only that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.


SEE ALSO:
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Israel's nuclear programme
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Nuclear watchdog 'ignores Israel'
30 Sep 03  |  Middle East


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