This file photo taken on September 08, 2002 shows a partial view of the Dimona nuclear power plant in the southern Israeli Negev desert. AFP / Thomas COEX
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Growing safety fears surrounding Israel's largest but ageing atomic research center have provoked fresh questions over its future and a dilemma over the secrecy of the country's alleged nuclear arsenal.The Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday that a study had uncovered 1,537 defects in the decades-old aluminum core of the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev desert of southern Israel.The defects at the center, where nuclear weapons were allegedly developed, were not seen to be severe and the risk of a nuclear outbreak is very limited, the report said.At the same time Israel has strongly opposed other regional powers, most notably its arch-foe Iran, obtaining nuclear weapons.Common practice is that such reactors are used for only 40 years, though this can be extended with modifications.Israel's atomic energy agency said in a statement that the country had the "highest international standards" of security and safety, adding that many reactors can last for far longer than 40 years.Building a new site could also see Israel pushed to officially declare its nuclear capabilities.
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