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Israel distributes radiation pills to residents near nuclear reactor

Israeli authorities began distributing iodine anti-radiation tablets today to thousands of residents living near the controversial Dimona nuclear reactor.

An army spokesman said that soldiers had begun delivering the Lugul tablets to homes and that a distribution centre was also being opened under the supervision of health experts.

The tablets will be handed out in the towns of Yeroham, Dimona and Aruar, and other surrounding villages as well as to Bedouins living in the southern Negev desert close to the Dimona reactor.

The Government announced back in June that it would distribute the tablets, which have been stored for the last 20 years, as a preventive measure.

It denied that there was any cause for concern about safety measures or levels of radiation, adding that similar precautions had been taken in other foreign countries.

Israeli scientists and politicians have called for the closure of the 40-year-old Dimona plant, saying its age had increased the risk of accidents.

Israel has never publicly acknowledged that it maintains a nuclear arsenal but foreign experts say it has used its reactor at Dimona to produce between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads.

The distribution program will later be extended to the area around the town of Yavne, south of Tel Aviv and close to the small Nahal Sorek plant, the country's second nuclear facility.

--AFP




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