Former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu said he blew the whistle about his country's nuclear program because he wanted to prevent a new holocaust.
"I felt it was not about betraying, it was about reporting. It was about saving Israel from a new holocaust," Vanunu said in a BBC program to be broadcast on Sunday.
In the first interview since his release in April after 18 years in prison Vanunu told the BBC's "This World" program that he had not been a traitor and had no regrets.
"What I did was to inform the world what is going on in secret. I didn't come and say, we should destroy Israel."
"I have no regrets in spite of the fact I have paid a heavy punishment," he said in a transcript released by the BBC on Saturday.
Vanunu, 49, worked at Israel's atomic reactor in Dimona in the Negev desert between 1976 and 1985. He was jailed in 1986 for treason after disclosing details and photographs of the reactor to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper. The scoop led foreign experts to conclude Israel had between 100 to 200 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
The revelations were extremely embarrassing for the Israeli government blowing apart the country's long-standing policy of "strategic ambiguity." Israel hoped that by neither admitting nor denying its nuclear capability it would ward off a regional arms race.
When Vanunu was released it reignited the issue and the government, fearing he could leak more classified information, put him under close surveillance and slapped restrictions on his movements, including a one-year ban on travel abroad.
Moroccan-born Vanunu told the BBC he wanted to quit the country which he said had treated him so harshly.
"I want to leave Israel. I'm not interested in living in Israel. I want to start my new life in the United States, or somewhere in Europe, and to start living as a human being."
The BBC interview, conducted through an Israeli intermediary, will be broadcast on BBC Two at 10.45 p.m. (21.45 GMT).