Netanyahu revealed little about Iran nuclear program

15:33 • 02.05.18



On a makeshift stage in Israel's Ministry of Defense, a high-walled, heavily guarded complex in the heart of Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's show was about to begin.


After a technical snafu that required two wireless microphones before it was sorted out, Netanyahu revealed his first slide in a dramatic multimedia presentation, displayed on a screen that dwarfed the Israeli leader.


An image of an Iranian flag and a nuclear symbol framed the title page: "Atomic Archive: Iran's Secret Nuclear Files."


Moments later, as Netanyahu worked through video clips from Iranian leaders, two words popped up on screen in letters that were half as tall as the Prime Minister: "Iran lied."


Netanyahu's show -- and it was a show, broadcast live in prime-time and carried on CNN and other American cable networks -- was in full swing.


"Tonight, we are going to reveal new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive."


The Prime Minister, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and light blue tie, walked over to two large display cases on stage and pulled down the black sheets that hid their contents.


This was Netanyahu's mother lode. This is what he wanted to show the world.


A wall of gleaming CDs containing 55,000 files purportedly from Iran's nuclear archive? Check.


A cabinet of color-coded binders with another 55,000 pages allegedly from the same archive? Got that, too.


New evidence that Iran violated the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA? Not so fast.


Nonproliferation experts who spoke with CNN say Netanyahu provided no evidence that Iran contravened the terms of the agreement. Moreover, they say there was nothing new in Netanyahu's speech. And the other signatories to the JCPOA, with the notable exception of America, agree with that assessment.


"There's nothing new in the material that Netanyahu revealed yesterday. All of it was information that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) already had and has already commented on," said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and an expert on nonproliferation.


Echoing Fitzpatrick is Jeffrey Lewis, another nonproliferation expert and scholar the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. "Everything Netanyahu said from the name of that [Iranian nuclear development] plan down to the fine details was described in the IAEA's final report about Iran's nuclear weapons program, so there was nothing new about the scope of that program."


Both experts agreed on the most surprising element of Netanyahu's presentation -- that Israel had managed to acquire what appeared to be a large portion of Iran's nuclear archive in what Netanyahu called one of the country's greatest "intelligence achievements." US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed the authenticity of the materials.

 

"The documents show that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program for years. Iran sought to develop nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. Iran hid a vast atomic archive from the world and from the IAEA — until today," said Pompeo in a statement after the speech.


But that doesn't mean the materials revealed a trove of new information, though both Fitzpatrick and Lewis caution that such a large cache of documents will take time to properly analyze.


As for what Netanyahu highlighted in his presentation? "All of these documents are of a historical nature dating back to before 2003," said Lewis.


The IAEA, which is the UN's nuclear watchdog tasked with inspections and monitoring of Iran's nuclear program, agreed.


"Before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device," said IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl. "Although some activities took place after 2003, they were not part of a coordinated effort."


There are "no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009," he said. He concluded that Iran's activities "did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities."


The IAEA was aware of most, if not all the documents Netanyahu highlighted, as Fitzpatrick and Lewis point
out. Some were included in a series of IAEA reports leading up to the Iran nuclear deal.


World leaders -- again, with the exception of the Trump administration -- were similarly not impressed.


EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini said, "I have not seen from Prime Minister Netanyahu arguments for the moment on noncompliance, meaning violation by Iran of its nuclear commitments under the [nuclear] deal."


Russia stood by the current deal, rejecting any push to update or change the JCPOA. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom said Netanyahu's presentation was exactly a case for keeping the deal in place, because it provided for inspection and monitoring of Iran's nuclear program and, if needed, sanctions.


And what about one of the central accusations of Netanyahu's presentation, that Iran lied? It was a talking point he hit over and over, making for easy sound bites and compelling television.


Well, that didn't surprise anyone either.


"Everybody knew that they lied. There's nothing new about that," Lewis said flatly.


"The Iranians had a nuclear weapons program. We knew this," agreed Fitzpatrick.


"We already knew the outlines of the [Iranian nuclear] program in great detail, and all this did was color it in, sometimes in pornog As Mogherini and others pointed out, Netanyahu didn't establish a solid case that Iran had violated the terms of the nuclear agreement, nor did he present evidence to that effect, despite Netanyahu saying Iran didn't come clean about their previous nuclear work. Though world leaders agreed the IAEA needed to analyze all the documents and files uncovered, there was no suggestion that what was revealed so far mandated a renewed imposition of sanctions against Tehran.

 

Instead, Netanyahu suggested that Iran's holding of the knowledge from when they had worked on development of nuclear weapons nearly two decades ago was proof enough that they would one day return to their work. On this point, Netanyahu cited Iran's repeated calls for the destruction of the United States and Israel, as well as Iran's ballistic missile program, which was not included as a part of the JCPOA.


Fitzpatrick is skeptical.


"The argument is posed in a way that ascribes motives that we don't know. It's been clear for many years that Iran had a nuclear hedging strategy, and that they have long wanted an option to produce a nuclear weapon. When they agreed to the [nuclear] deal in 2015, they postponed any day in which they would be able to pursue that option, but they never gave up the option. That's why Israel has never liked this deal -- because Iran has a nuclear hedging strategy."

 





LATEST NEWSAll Today news

14:10 • 22/10

Caravan of migrants swells to 7,000 and stretches more than a mile long as they continue marching towards the US border

13:33 • 22/10

Khashoggi 'given police protection' in Turkey

13:25 • 22/10

Budapest 2018: Armenian wrestler celebrates victory in opening match

13:05 • 22/10

Actor Selma Blair reveals she has multiple sclerosis

12:56 • 22/10

Syria describes US-led coalition’s actions as genocide

12:46 • 22/10

Armenian parliament vice speaker conducts working trip to St Petersburg

12:17 • 22/10

Catholicos Garegin II in Italy for working visit

11:30 • 22/10

Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

11:13 • 22/10

Saudi official provides another version of Khashoggi death

10:33 • 22/10

New chief architect of Yerevan appointed

09:47 • 22/10

Trump, Erdogan discuss Saudi journalist's murder in phone call

09:42 • 22/10

Gorbachev warns of Trump nuclear treaty plan

09:12 • 22/10

Egypt extends emergency for three months  

15:05 • 20/10

Nikol Pashinyan in Lebanon for two-day working visit  

14:44 • 20/10

Armenian writer wins Golden Knight literary award in Russia

14:22 • 20/10

Bako Sahakyan congratulates Catholicos Aram I on 50th anniversary of ordination

13:40 • 20/10

Doctors pluck 11 live worms from a five-month-old's eyeball

11:18 • 20/10

Macedonia votes to start name change process

10:41 • 20/10

Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani 'planning trip to Armenia'

09:19 • 20/10

Afghanistan holds parliamentary election amid threats of violence

09:10 • 20/10

Khashoggi case: Saudi TV says missin g journalist 'died after fight'

18:12 • 19/10

Kocharyan lawyers to file appeal with European court

17:10 • 19/10

No prison overcrowding in Armenia, says acting minister

16:21 • 19/10

Australian family's terror as bull shark jumps into tinny during fishing trip

16:07 • 19/10

Aliyev travels to Turkey for working visit  

15:35 • 19/10

Turkish violin virtuoso plays Komitas to commemorate Ara Guler (video)

15:07 • 19/10

eBay revenues up to take on Auto Trader in car ads

15:03 • 19/10

Azerbaijan rescues Iranian sailors 'poisoned by chemicals'

14:38 • 19/10

October 24 marks National Assembly's latest date to elect prime minister  

13:46 • 19/10

Facebook sued over video viewing figures

13:02 • 19/10

Russian animators producing screen version of Saroyan’s 'The Summer of Beautiful White Horse'

12:07 • 19/10

Park dedicated to 2,800th jubilee of Yerevan to open in spring  

11:42 • 19/10

Customs beagle sniffs out pig head in luggage

11:30 • 19/10

Republican Party’s Executive Board discusses electoral reform

11:15 • 19/10

Jenna Bush Hager convinced the White House is haunted

10:43 • 19/10

Forthcoming elections will be the most important in the history of modern Armenia, says international expert

10:16 • 19/10

US-led coalition strikes civilian homes in Deir ez-Zor 

10:11 • 19/10

Apple announces iPad Pro and Mac event for October 30

09:38 • 19/10

Mexico sends police to southern border

09:15 • 19/10

ISIS take 700 hostages including US and European nationals and will 'execute 10 people a day', Putin says

18:04 • 18/10

UK minister steps out of Saudi summit

17:52 • 18/10

Hamilton says chasing Schumacher's record was never the plan

17:33 • 18/10

Republican politician 'confident' about party's future success

17:02 • 18/10

100-year-old woman in wheelchair gets married to 74-year-old man 

16:46 • 18/10

ECHR fines Armenia over procedural violations in March 1, 2008 criminal cases

16:04 • 18/10

Washington Post publishes Saudi journalist's final column

15:22 • 18/10

Kocharyan vows to create political party after 'comeback'

12:22 • 18/10

ADB to offer $50m worth budgetary assistance to Armenia

12:06 • 18/10

168 Zham: EU and Russia have different political expectations from Armenia

11:10 • 18/10

Hraparak: Koharyan stepping aside

09:52 • 18/10

Elon Musk ‘planning to buy’ $20 million of Tesla stock

09:22 • 18/10

Venezuela arrests military officers over Maduor assassination attempt

09:12 • 18/10

World-renowned Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Guler passes away

09:02 • 18/10

Norway issues apologies to WW2 'German girls'

17:54 • 17/10

Google unshackles Android-device firms

17:06 • 17/10

Ariana Grande takes social media break

16:36 • 17/10

Armenia improves positions on Global Competitiveness Index

16:29 • 17/10

Huawei Mate 20 Pro launches with in-screen fingerprint sensor

16:09 • 17/10

Crimea terrorist attack: 13 killed, dozens injured in Kerch college explosion

15:34 • 17/10

Turkey closed border with Armenia for Azerbaijan, says former envoy

15:10 • 17/10

World stocks extend rise after blockbuster US earnings

14:37 • 17/10

Pashinyan introduces new acting minister of economic development and investments

14:09 • 17/10

Fabregas in Guinness World Records for reaching 100 PL assists

13:50 • 17/10

Turkey ‘hopes to enter Saudi consul's residence’ on Wednesday  

13:29 • 17/10

Chinese woman kills herself and two kids after husband fakes death

12:43 • 17/10

Armenia's position on Karabakh 'clearly enshrined' in government program – Foreign Ministry

12:15 • 17/10

Kourtney Kardashian jumps with joy as she ignores sister Kim’s most exciting comment

11:33 • 17/10

Hraparak: Anti-Armenian status for Karabakh 'unnegotiable'

11:01 • 17/10

Man who illegally crossed Armenia- Turkey border 'identified as ethnic Kurd'

10:48 • 17/10

Nations League: Armenia beat Macedonia 4-0

10:15 • 17/10

Kocharyan critical about plan to hold snap elections

09:42 • 17/10

Pashinyan tenders resignation to pave way to snap elections

09:32 • 17/10

At least 30 killed by hurricane Michael

09:12 • 17/10

Canada legalizes marijuana and cannabis

18:09 • 16/10

Thirty years in a metal container damaged by enemy firings

17:41 • 16/10

Moody’s assigns B1 rating to Inecobank

17:26 • 16/10

Russian expert slams Moscow’s weapons trading with Azerbaijan  

16:59 • 16/10

All Ucom TV Subscribers to Enjoy 4 Most Demanded TV-Series’ Channels

16:29 • 16/10

ARF-D not 'not planning to nominate' prime ministerial candidate

15:57 • 16/10

Outgoing US ambassador to Armenia speaks of 'occupied terrritories' surrounding Karabakh

15:34 • 16/10

Google pulls out of Saudi investor conference

14:49 • 16/10

Turkey gets representation in IMF executive directorate

14:44 • 16/10

Bulgaria not to join Eurovision 2019 Song Contest

13:23 • 16/10

Armenian president signs decrees to appoint new cabinet ministers

13:03 • 16/10

Armenian arm wrestling athlete named world champion in Turkey

12:40 • 16/10

Armenia: Three new regional governors appointed

12:04 • 16/10

2018 marked period of unique democratic reforms in Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan says at EaP ministerial summit

11:08 • 16/10

Mike Pompeo to meet Saudi Arabia's king

10:47 • 16/10

CSTO Parliamentary Assembly 'to conduct session in Moscow' instead of Yerevan

10:09 • 16/10

Hraparak: European institutions 'against' early elections in Armenia

09:44 • 16/10

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

09:31 • 16/10

Australia to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital by moving embassy from Tel-Aviv

09:13 • 16/10

Facebook to ban misinformation on voting in upcoming US elections

18:18 • 15/10

New sports minister pledges 'systemic reforms'

17:45 • 15/10

Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ named top album in UK

15:36 • 15/10

Trump called for plan to remove all US diplomats from Turkey in frustration over detention of American pastor

15:12 • 15/10

Bloodhound 1,000mph car goes into administration

14:29 • 15/10

Pashinyan 'not to tender resignation' on Oct. 15, press secretary confirms

13:33 • 15/10

Aznavour family shocked by mocking cartoon portraying late singer

13:08 • 15/10

Rouhani accuses US of seeking “regime change” in Iran