News & Politics

Netanyahu Drops Iran Bombshell at UN

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows guided missile sites in Beirut during his address of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that there exists a secret Iranian nuclear facility in Tehran that proves the Iranians have not given up their ambition to build a nuclear weapon despite the agreement they signed in 2015 with western powers.

The previously undisclosed facility is a warehouse in Iran that Netanyahu says housed 33 pounds of nuclear material. The storage facility is close to an atomic archive that Netanyahu exposed last April after a daring raid by Israeli intelligence netted thousands of nuclear-related documents.

Reuters quotes Netanyahu in his speech:

“Since we raided the atomic archive, they’ve been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse. Just last month they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it?” he said. “They took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence.”

“This site contained as much as 300 tonnes – 300 tonnes – of nuclear-related equipment and materiel,” he said.

The International Atomic Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly said Tehran was abiding by its commitments to the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including in a document reviewed by Reuters on Aug. 30.

France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia have stayed in the pact, vowing to save it despite the restoration of U.S. sanctions and this week discussing a barter mechanism they hope may allow Iran to circumvent the U.S. measures.

Netanyahu criticized Europe for doing so in unusually harsh language that evoked European nations’ initial failure to confront Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

“While the United States is confronting Iran with new sanctions, Europe and others are appeasing Iran by trying to help it bypass those new sanctions,” Netanyahu said.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States is aware of the facility Netanyahu announced and described it as a “warehouse” used to store “records and archives” from Iran’s nuclear program.

A second U.S. intelligence official called Netanyahu’s comments “somewhat misleading. First, we have known about this facility for some time, and it’s full of file cabinets and paper, not aluminum tubes for centrifuges, and second, so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out of the JCPOA any faster than it otherwise could.”

Whose intelligence agency has a better track record on predicting the Iran threat? The U.S. or Israel?

Netanyahu also took Iran to task for their missile program which directly targets Israel. “In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles, missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of 10 meters (yards),” he said.

It is estimated that Iran’s ally Hezbollah has 130,000 rockets and missiles, most of them able to hit any city in Israel. This is up from 15,000 in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.

Netanyahu’s warnings will go unheeded and unheard. The world is too busy pretending that Iran has become a model nation and that the JCPOA actually put Iran’s nuclear program “in a bottle.” The Europeans don’t want to sanction the Iranians — not while their companies are signing multi-billion dollar deals with the regime. So the U.S. and Israel will go it alone.

The Israeli prime minister, like Winston Churchill, sees the clear and present danger of Iran. And like Churchill’s countrymen, the rest of the world has its head in the sand.