Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to prove that Iran covertly purchased nuclear weapons and that “Iran lied. Big time,” to the world about its nuclear ambitions.
He claimed last night this is proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.
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Netanyahu said Israel has piles of secret documents from Iran that show attempts by Tehran to conceal a military nuclear programme codenamed Project Amad which it ran until 2003.
He also asserted that, even after Project Amad ended, Iran continued to develop nuclear technology for military purposes.
Netanyahu said that he has more than 100,000 files and around 180 CDs that Israeli forces seized from an Iranian “atomic archive”. While these files predate the 2015 deal and therefore do not technically violate it, Netanyahu’s claim is that Iran purposefully misled the international community about its nuclear ambitions.
According to Netanyahu, Israel has now passed on these documents to US officials. The alleged revelations against Iran come ahead of US President Donald Trump’s decision next month whether or not to pull out of the Iran deal.
In 2015, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement between Iran, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the European Union.
Spearheaded by former US President Barack Obama, and normally referred to as just “the Iran deal”, this agreement committed signatories to lifting sanctions of Iran if it abandoned its nuclear weapons programme.
Iran has always denied that it sought nuclear weapons, and insists that its interest in the technology was part of a nuclear energy programme. Even so, Iran agreed to abandoned the development of nuclear technology, for any purpose, when it signed the deal in 2015.
Netanyahu has urged Trump to “do the right thing” and abandon the JCPOA, which Israel has long opposed.
Following Netanyahu’s announcement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the secret documents indicated that the Iran deal was not made on good faith.
Speaking shortly after Netanyahu’s news conference, Washington said Israel’s claims provided “new and compelling details” about Tehran’s desire to develop “missile-deliverable nuclear weapons”.
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A White House statement said:
These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons programme that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.
Netanyahu said that the US can vouch for the validity of the documents he has uncovered, and that Iran has made increasingly detailed efforts to hide them from the international community.
He claims that the files were deliberately kept in vaults in an “innocent-looking compound” in the Shorabad District in Tehran. He claims the files include blueprints, charts, photos and videos and presentations showing Iranian nuclear weaponry.
Pompeo has stated that the US believes the documents to be authentic and that it has known about them “for a while”. He also says that the US plans to consult with its European allies over the information.
Meanwhile, Iranian sources have called Israeli claims about the documents “ridiculous”. Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said that Iran would never harbour such documents in an abandoned area. He called Netanyahu’s claims “childish” and “laughable”.
The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted:
The boy who can’t stop crying wolf is at it again…You can only fool some of the people so many times.
BREAKING: The boy who can't stop crying wolf is at it again. Undeterred by cartoon fiasco at UNGA. You can only fool some of the people so many times. pic.twitter.com/W7saODfZDK
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 30, 2018
The UK Government has said that inspectors ensured that the 2015 Iran deal was adhered to. The other two European signatories, France and Germany, have also reaffirmed their commitment to the deal.
A UK Government spokesman said that, prior to signing the agreement, all countries were privy to a “vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal”.