Accessibility links

Breaking News

U.S. Welcomes, Europeans Dismiss Israeli 'Proof' Iran Sought Nuclear Arms


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on April 29.

European nations dismissed the significance of documents Israel offered as proof that Iran once sought to develop nuclear weapons while the United States welcomed them as evidence of Iranian "lies."

"The documents show that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program for years" while it was denying it was pursuing such weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late on April 30 as he returned to Washington from a trip to Europe and the Middle East.

"What this means is [Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers] was not constructed on a foundation of good faith or transparency. It was built on Iran's lies," Pompeo said, adding that the trove of documents Israel said it obtained on Iran's so-called Project Amad to develop nuclear weapons before 2004 contain "new information."

"The Iranians have consistently taken the position that they've never had a program like this. This will belie any notion that there wasn't a program," Pompeo said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his dramatic announcement less than two weeks before the May 12 deadline for U.S. President Donald Trump to decide whether he will withdraw from the deal, which requires Iran to curb some of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

"How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter, adding that the Israeli claims are "ridiculous" and "a rehash of old allegations."

European powers also said they were not impressed by the nearly 55,000 documents that Netanyahu claimed would prove that Iran once planned to develop the equivalent of "five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles."

"We have never been naive about Iran and its nuclear intentions," a British government spokesman said, adding that is why the nuclear agreement contained a regime to inspect suspected Iranian nuclear sites that is "one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords."

"It remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal and that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful," the British spokesman said.

Britain, France, and Germany are the three European powers that signed the deal, along with Russia, China, and the United States.

European officials said the documents provided by Israel contain no evidence that Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons after the 2015 deal was signed, so they indirectly confirm that Iran is complying with the deal.

The French ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, tweeted that evidence of Iranian nuclear activity in the past, before the deal was signed, is an argument in favor of the nuclear deal, not against it.

A German government spokesman said Berlin will analyze the materials provided by Israel, but added that the documents demonstrate why the nuclear deal with its mandatory inspections must be maintained.

"It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program," the spokesman said. "It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015."

The UN's nuclear watchdog weighed in on Tuesday saying it had "no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009".

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement that its board of governors had "declared that its consideration of this issue was closed" after it was presented with a report in December 2015.

Netanyahu also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 30, who afterwards said in a statement issued by the Kremlin that the nuclear deal remains of "paramount importance to international stability and security, and must be strictly observed by all its signatories," the Russian state-run news agency TASS reported.

The White House welcomed the Israeli announcement, saying that Tel Aviv has uncovered "new and compelling details" about Tehran's efforts to develop "missile-deliverable nuclear weapons."

"The United States has long known Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people," the White House said.

The jousting over the Israeli announcement came as Trump repeated his strong opposition to the deal, which he called a "horrible agreement."

"In seven years, that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons," Trump said at the White House. "That is not acceptable."

Many observers have concluded that Trump will move to withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal on May 12.

Trump did not say on April 30 what he will do, but he rejected a suggestion that walking away from the Iran deal would send a bad signal to North Korea as it negotiates with Washington over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"I think it sends the right message" to Pyongyang, Trump said.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters

XS
SM
MD
LG