Big-time Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan has admitted that he led a double life as an Israeli spy and arms dealer.

The Israeli businessman behind box office successes Fight Club, Pretty Woman and Mr & Mrs Smith confirmed the claims, made in an unauthorised biography, on the Israeli documentary show Uvda.

In an extended interview the programme Milchan, 68, talked about his work for an Israeli agency, the Bureau of Scientific Relations, which concluded arms deals and maintained Israel's nuclear weapons project.

"I did it for my country and I'm proud of it," said Milchan, who earned the majority of his £2.6bn through a successful fertiliser company before making it big in Hollywood.

"Do you know what it's like to be a 20-something kid [and] his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting.

"When I came to Hollywood I detached myself completely from my physical activities to dedicate myself to what I really wanted - filmmaking. [But] sometimes it gets mixed up."

The producer also claimed in the interview that, when in Hollywood, he used connections to promote the apartheid regime in South Africa in return for it helping Israel to obtain uranium.

Israeli president Shimon Peres, the creator of Israel's nuclear weapons programme in the 1960s, admitted recruiting Milchan.

"Arnon is a special man. It was I who recruited him. When I was at the ministry of defence, Arnon was involved in numerous defence-related procurement activities and intelligence operations.

"His strength is in making connections at the highest levels. His activities gave us a huge advantage, strategically, diplomatically and technologically," he said.

Milchan established the New Regency film company which produced 120 films and boasted a stellar roll call of actors and directors including Martin Scorsese, Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Oliver Stone.

During his time in Tinseltown, Milchan became good friends with Robert De Niro, who also featured in the Uvda documentary.

"I had heard but I wasn't sure," De Niro said of his friend's spying activities.

"I did ask him once and he told me that he was an Israeli and of course he would do these things for his country."