Israel’s heist a setback for Iranian nuclear program

Maps of secret sites, technical diagrams and incriminating photos: The secret documents seized in the daring raid revealed by the Prime Minister on Sunday are not old news.

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israel delivered a severe blow to Iran's nuclear program by spiriting a cache of some 100,000 documents from a secret vault in Tehran that included details about nuclear-weapons production and test sites, senior Israeli officials told reporters on Tuesday.
Israel claims proof Iran "lied" about past nuclear program, April 30, 2018 (Reuters
The comments came one day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference in which he detailed the find.
After Netanyahu spoke, questions were raised about the significance of the documents, which focused on Project Amad, an Iranian nuclear-weapons program that existed from 1999 to 2003.
It was widely expected that Netanyahu would present proof that Iran is now in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal in advance of a May 12 deadline for US President Donald Trump to scrap the deal.
Senior Israeli intelligence officials said the importance of the documents was in the definitive proof they provided of Iran having had a nuclear weapons program and that the country had not destroyed essential documentation related to those efforts.
It was significant that Israel could obtain so many documents from Tehran and now has a wealth of new information about Iran's nuclear program, the officials added.
Among the critical documents is a map of five secret nuclear test sites. One official quipped that any tests Iran might now do at those sites would no longer remain secret.
Much of the information contained in the documents involves complex diagrams, graphs and information and will take a significant amount of time to reassemble, an official noted, hinting that Israel had captured a number of original documents instead of merely copies.
He refused to speculate on how long it would take for Iran to make up for the loss.
According to a senior intelligence officer involved in the operation, Israel has never received so much original intelligence at one time. The trove includes 55,000 pages of documents and another 50,000 files on 183 compact discs.
"It's a significant amount of information which expands the knowledge we had on Iran's program," the officer said, adding that the best translators in the Mossad are still working on the documents, which are written in Farsi, allowing for the possibility that additional intelligence will be gleaned from the remaining documents.
The authenticity of the information makes it impossible for Iran to continue to deny their nuclear program, the officer continued, who said the evidence Israel now has is on a "whole different level."
According to the officer, Israel cannot present all of the "truly incriminating photos" that Jerusalem now has in its possession "because they clearly show how to build an atomic weapon."
"We have a different level of proof of their weapons programs, and that it was ordered by the Iranian leadership. We have new details on the equipment the Iranians have, who the people involved are, and more. Iran will need to explain all of them," he said.
While a half-ton of documents were smuggled out of what was described as a "dilapidated warehouse" in the southern Tehran neighborhood of Shorabad to Israel, some documents were left behind because they were "very heavy," the intelligence officer said.
According to The New York Times, "Israel's Mossad intelligence service discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then. Mossad operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night."
One senior intelligence officer stated, "There's also a question of why they have this archive and why they actively hid it in a building which from the outside looks abandoned. If Iran never developed and never planned to develop nuclear weapons, then why would they do this?"
The documentation gives the international community the ability to confront Iranian lies with truth regarding its nuclear ambitions, officials said.