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Dimona: Israeli desert town and secret nuclear site

by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Feb 4, 2008
The southern Israeli town of Dimona, which was hit by a deadly suicide bombing on Monday, has achieved notoriety well beyond its size because of the nearby Negev Nuclear Research Centre.

With an estimated population of around 40,000, the town lies just eight miles (12 kilometres) from the top secret desert facility where Israel is widely believed to have developed the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal.

That fact made the town a target for the Scud missiles fired by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime during the 1991 Gulf war alongside much larger population centres.

Founded in the 1950s as one of the development towns Israel established to absorb North African Jewish immigrants, Dimona provided housing for workers in the chemical industry of the Dead Sea 35 kilometres (25 miles) to the east and also a textile centre.

With the mass immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, the town saw a new growth in its population, but in recent years it has suffered from declining employment in its older industrial plants and it now suffers high unemployment.

Dimona lies in the heart of the Negev desert, sandwiched between the West Bank to the north, Jordan to the east, Gaza to the northwest and Egypt's Sinai peninsula to the southwest.

The town is a centre of the Black Hebrew population, who moved to Israel from Chigao but whose Jewish credentials have never been accepted by the Orthodox rabbinate.

The area around Dimona is also a centre for Israel's Bedouin, who form some 25 percent of the area's population.

The Bedouin, former nomads who are counted separately from other Arabs in Israeli censuses and can volunteer for military service, normally as trackers, have become increasingly disenchanted in recent years.

The community complains of loss of land through state and municipal confiscations and an effective bar on marriages to Palestinians from the nearby West Bank, as well as high unemployment.

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Analysis: Proliferation program effective?
The Dalles, Ore. (UPI) Feb 4, 2008
A nuclear non-proliferation initiative came under recent attack in Congress after a report accused the program of failing to accomplish its original purpose.







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