Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this morning that if the trove of information he revealed Monday on Iran’s nuclear program had come to light before the 2015 P5+1 deal was set into stone the nuclear deal “would not be done” as “a key condition for its implementation was that Iran come clean, and it gave them a clean bill of health that they have no secret nuclear weapons.”
“They had it. They kept it. They kept it and they’re ready to use it,” he said of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
In a Monday presentation from Israel’s Defense Ministry, Netanyahu said tens of thousands of pages of documents had been recovered by Israeli intelligence from a secret storage facility in Tehran about Project Amad, which aimed to produce five nuclear warheads. “These files conclusively prove that Iran was brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” the prime minister said.
He told CNN this morning that he delivered the presentation in English instead of Hebrew “because I wanted the world to hear it, all of it.”
“I think no one had better intelligence on Iran than Israel. And when we got this trove of 100,000 documents, we learned so many things that we didn’t know. We’re still learning them. You know, we needed to translate it from Farsi, all these documents, all these simulations, all these — all this data, all this testing, everything, all these sites. We’ve learned an enormous amount about Iran’s secret nuclear program,” he said.
“Now, the deal that everybody is talking about was premised on the fact that Iran had no such material. But Iran bothered, took enormous pains after the nuclear deal and before, but especially after, to hide this information. It’s like an arsenal of knowledge. It’s not just in the minds of people whom they have,” he added. “It’s the actual calculations that they’ve done, the blueprints, the measurements. They kept it hidden because they don’t want the world to know what I showed yesterday: that they actually have this capability, a pretty advanced capability, to manufacture nuclear weapons.”
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif charged that Netanyahu was digging up old issues that had been previously settled with the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to get President Trump to pull out of the nuclear deal. Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to stay in the agreement; French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been lobbying heavily for the U.S. to stay.
Netanyahu retorted this morning that “if people knew this, then how could they close the file and say they never did anything like this? This was the condition for entering the deal.”
“It’s crucial to understand that the nuclear deal right now that we’re discussing is premised on the assumption that Iran will somehow become a peaceful country. It’s not. It’s become, you know, an empire that is devouring one country after the other,” he said.
The prime minister said that if the nuclear deal was scrapped, “the first thing that would happen is you would crash Iran’s money machine in which its pursuing its dreams of a conquest and empire.”
“They’re funding it with billions — tens of billions of dollars, their aggression throughout the region. And this deal facilitates it. If you take away the deal, they’re going to be in a huge economic problem,” he said. “Second thing, I think you have to insist that you actually dismantle the components that allow Iran to produce an — an arsenal of nuclear weapons. If you don’t and you do nothing, then I predict that what you do is head right into a wall. You’d head into a terrible conflict and perhaps a terrible war in which Iran would be armed with nuclear weapons. That’s bad.”
“If you want peace, oppose this deal,” Netanyahu added.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Monday that it’s “partly true” that the U.S. already knew about Project Amad.
“But there are thousands of new documents and new information. We’re still going through it. There’s still a lot of work to do to figure out precisely the scope and scale of it. But it is the case – there is new information about that program,” Pompeo said.
“They kept the documents for a reason, and one can speculate as to why. If you said you were never – right? – the JCPOA says you’ll never, ever have a nuclear weapons program – right? Or maybe not with a not a never ever. You won’t ever have a nuclear weapons program. But you chose to store in secret and hide these documents?” he added. “The world can decide if this was for the Iranian museum that they decided to hang onto it.”