Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed what he says are “secret nuclear files” proving Iran once covertly pursued nuclear weapons.He said thousands of pages of material obtained by Israel showed Iran had deceived the world by denying it had ever sought nuclear weapons. Iran agreed in 2015 to curb its nuclear energy programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.
It maintained that it had only been pursuing nuclear energy. US President Donald Trump, who has long threatened to scrap the nuclear deal, said the situation was “not acceptable” and he would make a decision on the deal on or before 12 May.
“They’re not sitting back idly, they’re setting off missiles which they say are for television purposes. I don’t think so,” said Mr Trump. European powers have said they are committed to upholding the accord.
Tweeting earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif appeared to accuse Mr Netanyahu of “fooling people”. Speaking in English from Israel’s defence ministry in Tel Aviv, Mr Netanyahu showed off what he said were “exact copies” of documents obtained by Israeli intelligence from a secret storage facility in Tehran.
There were, he said, 55,000 pages of evidence and a further 55,000 files on 183 CDs relating to a nuclear weapons programme called “Project Amad”. The project, he said, had had the explicit goal of producing five warheads, each with the yield of 10 kilotonnes of TNT.
Delivering a PowerPoint presentation, he said the dossiers showed Iran had pursued the key elements of a nuclear weapons programme, such as designing nuclear weapons and preparing for nuclear tests.
Iran, he said, had considered five different sites for conducting nuclear weapons tests. “Here’s what the files included: incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more,” he said.
“These files conclusively prove that Iran was brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons programme.” The files had been shared with the US, Mr Netanyahu said, and would be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate assessed “with high confidence” that Iran did have a nuclear weapons programme up until 2003 but that Iran had stopped it after its discovery.
On Monday the Israeli prime minister argued the existence of the alleged files proved Iran had been “secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons”.