IAEA to examine Dimona effect

The UN nuclear watchdog has said it will send experts to Jordan to verify whether the Dimona nuclear plant in Israel is emitting high levels of radiation.

    Israel's Dimona N-plant is at the centre of a radiation dispute

    "We have received a request from the Jordanian Government to assist them in monitoring the radiological situation," Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Saturday.

    He added: "We agreed to send a fact-finding mission in the coming weeks to help them determine whether there is any radiological incident." 

    The request came from Jordan's parliamentary health and environment committee after former Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu warned that the plant, built in the late 1950s with the help of France in the southern Negev desert, could become a "second Chernobyl". 

    Vanunu, a former technician, served an 18-year prison sentence in Israel for revealing secrets about the plant.

    Chernobyl was a nuclear plant that exploded in the then Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1986, causing the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.

    No proof

    But a diplomat based in Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, said there is no proof of any contamination from the Dimona plant. 

    Jordan's government insists the
    country is free of contamination

    "There is no evidence of radiation ... nobody has ever gotten near Dimona," he said.

    Jordan said in August it was preparing to invite UN experts from the IAEA to carry out independent surveys in the kingdom to eliminate any fear of contamination from the plant in neighbouring Israel. 

    However, Jordan Government spokeswoman Asma Khadr has insisted the country is free of any contamination from the ageing Israeli reactor and reiterated that radiation levels are normal. 

    The IAEA said it had had no similar request from Israel, which maintains a high level of secrecy around its nuclear programmes.



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