Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu accuses Iran of hiding nuclear weapons activity

In a televised presentation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of moving nuclear weapons to a secret location. Iran's semiofficial news agency has dismissed the speech as a "propaganda show."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented what he claimed was proof that Iran had broken the terms of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with major world powers.

Netanyahu said he was prepared to share the "incriminating" files on Iran's nuclear weapons program, "Project Amad." He said Israel had recently uncovered 55,000 documents and 183 CDs from Iran's "nuclear archives."

Later on Monday, US President Donald Trump said he had watched the presentation, describing it as "good." He said the televised statement and other recent events had showed that he had been "100 percent right" about Iran.

"These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known," A White House statement read. "Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people."

As he flew back from Israel on Monday, new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US "has known about this material for a while" but that thousands of documents were new. "We certainly discussed this material yesterday when we were together," he said, referring to his meeting on Sunday with Netanyahu.

Pompeo countered allegations that the documents were not authentic. "I can confirm with you, for you, that these documents are real, they are authentic," he said.

The Trump administration has indicated it plans to back out of the nuclear deal in the coming days.

Main points

Speaking in English in the nationally televised address, the Israeli premier claimed that:
Israel had obtained "half a ton" of Iranian documents that proved Iran had lied about its nuclear weapons program.

Iran "continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons know-how for future use."

]After signing the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran "intensified its efforts to hide its secret files ... moving them to a highly secret location in Tehran in 2017."

Iran "planned at the highest levels to continue building nuclear weapons."

Netanyahu had confidence that Trump would "do the right thing" in reviewing the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran dismisses announcement as 'propaganda'

Iran has questioned the legitimacy of the demands for changes to the nuclear deal, saying it has respected the accord. Tehran has dismissed Israel's allegations, suggesting they were timed to influence the upcoming US review of sanctions.

On Monday, the state-run news agency IRNA reported that Netanyahu is "famous for ridiculous shows." The semiofficial Fars news agency labeled the Israeli leader's speech a "propaganda show."

Middle East analyst Daniel Gerlach told DW that most of the information Netanyahu was referring to came from before the nuclear deal was concluded, and said some of the information presented by the prime minister had previously been contradicted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Netanyahu's own intelligence services.

But "it's not important so much what the information is about," Gerlach said. "It's important what kind of decision Donald Trump will take next week."

European support

Israel has repeatedly called for the 2015 nuclear deal to be altered or scrapped, but the leaders of Germany, France and Britain have voiced support for it.

In a statement, the EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said Netanyahu's allegations did not appear to show that Iran was violating the terms.

She added that the IAEA must be the one to assess whether Tehran was sticking to the deal.

"If any party and if any country has information of noncompliance, of any kind, it can and should address and channel this information to the proper, legitimate, recognized mechanisms, the IAEA and the Joint Commission [of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] for the monitoring of the nuclear deal," Mogherini wrote.

Reacting to Netanyahu's presentation on Monday, the German government said the IAEA must assess Israel's information on Iran's alleged nuclear activities immediately. A spokesman said Germany would analyze the information: "It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program."

"It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015, including the implementation of an unprecedented, thorough and robust surveillance system by the IAEA," the spokesman said.

Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were in Washington last week, and both are believed to have raised the issue with Trump.

The British government has "never been naive about Iran and its nuclear intentions," a spokesman said in a statement. The UK clarified, however, that the IAEA is essential to "independently verifying" allegations about Iran's nuclear program.

Last August, the UN nuclear watchdog gave Iran the all-clear on its stock of low-enriched uranium.

The 2015 deal

In a political agreement signed in July 2015 by Iran with six world powers — the US, under former President Barack Obama, Germany, China, France, Russia and Britain — Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from nuclear-related US and international sanctions.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action lifted sanctions in exchange for verifiable curbs on Iran's nuclear program for at least 10 to 15 years. US Congressional deadlines require the president to periodically review whether Washington should continue to suspend sanctions, or reimpose them. The next deadline falls on May 12.

DW

 

04.05.2018

 

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