WASHINGTON – Secret Iranian documents stolen by Israel and revealed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday underscore an existing US intelligence assessment, the White House said, that Tehran “had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”
The statement from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, confirmed that the US had been given access to the trove of documents allegedly taken by Mossad agents in a raid of a Tehran warehouse on a single January night this year.
The US “continues to examine it carefully,” the statement reads. But “this information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons.”
“These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known,” the statement continues. “The Iranian regime has shown it will use destructive weapons against its neighbors and others. Iran must never have nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu revealed the documents in a spectacular presentation from the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on Monday evening local time, filled with PowerPoint slides and a curtain reveal. If authentic, they show what much of the world long suspected and what Western intelligence agencies already apparently knew: that Iran had a sustained nuclear weapons program that included plans to build up to five nuclear warheads, and to even test them in underground facilities.
Netanyahu used the evidence to call Iran’s leaders a group of liars, airing videos from as recently as this year of the nation’s foreign minister, president and supreme leader denying that such a program ever existed – or would exist.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday that the documents obtained by Israel and presented by Netanyahu proved “beyond any doubt” that Iran’s nuclear weapons program was not peaceful.
“For many years, the Iranian regime has insisted to the world that its nuclear program was peaceful,” Pompeo said. “The documents obtained by Israel from inside of Iran show beyond any doubt that the Iranian regime was not telling the truth.”
“Among the flaws of the Iran nuclear deal was the whitewashing of Iran’s illicit activities related to its military nuclear program,” he continued. “Iran had many opportunities over the years to turn over its files to international inspectors from the [International Atomic Energy Agency] and admit its nuclear weapons work. Instead, they lied to the IAEA repeatedly.”
The White House statement initially released was in the present tense, suggesting the administration believes Iran’s clandestine weapons program continues. But administration officials clarified to The Jerusalem Post
on Monday evening that the tense used was a mistake, and had been corrected online.
In congressional testimonies over the past year, US director of national intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Mike Pompeo – both during his tenure as CIA director and in his confirmation hearings to become secretary of state – have all confirmed that Iran has abided by the terms of a nuclear agreement brokered in 2015 barring it from conducting any nuclear weapons work.
US President Donald Trump said earlier that Israel’s findings proved he was “100% right” about the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which he castigates repeatedly as one of the worst diplomatic agreements in history.
He has given European powers until May 12 to come up with “substantial” proposals to fix the accord. Otherwise, he says he will not renew waivers on nuclear sanctions against Iran, effectively withdrawing the US from the accord.
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