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American-Israeli convicted of revealing nuclear secrets

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

JERUSALEM -- A retired Israeli general, who also has American citizenship, was convicted Tuesday at a closed-door trial of disclosing nuclear weapons secrets, but was acquitted on the more serious charge of intending to harm state security.

Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Yaacov, 76, was commander of the armed forces weapons development unit until 1973. After retiring from active service he wrote a book of memoirs and another book, which he described as fiction. But the prosecution charged that both contained nuclear weapons secrets.

The books were not published, but Yaacov sent the manuscripts to publishers in the United States and also gave an interview to a foreign newspaper, in which he disclosed some of the same material.

Yaacov's lawyers did not dispute the facts but argued that the information should not be classified as secret and maintained that its disclosure was in the public interest.

The British newspaper The Sunday Times reported last May that Yaacov was involved in the development of Israel's nuclear weapons program.

Israel has never acknowledged having nuclear weapons, though the CIA has estimated that Israel has 200 to 400 such weapons.

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