Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Monday of "brazenly lying" about its ongoing nuclear weapons development in violation of the 2015 international pact that sought to restrain Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
In a televised address to his countrymen, Netanyahu displayed what he described as an Israeli intelligence coup: copies of "half a ton" of documents, charts, blueprints, photos and videos documenting the Iranian nuclear program. He said Israel had recovered more than 100,000 pages and files on Iran's nuclear program and is keeping them in a secured place.
He described the cache as "new and conclusive proof" that Iran is working on building nuclear bombs.
There was no immediate response from Iran about Netanyahu's speech. But beforehand, foreign minister Javad Zarif derided it, saying, "The boy who can't stop crying wolf is at it again. ... You can only fool some of the people so many times."
Netanyahu cited numerous past statements in recent years by Iranian officials that the Islamic Republic was not developing nuclear weapons and had no intention of doing so in the future. But the Israeli leader declared, "Iran lies, big time."
He said Iran, despite its claims that it is adhering to the 2015 agreement between the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, has been pursuing nuclear weapons development "at the highest levels" of its government.
Netanyahu said Iran is seeking to develop five nuclear warheads that could carry 10 kilotons of TNT on missiles, which he described as equivalent to "five Hiroshima bombs," like the one the U.S. detonated over the Japanese city at the end of World War II in 1945.
Netanyahu's pronouncement on Iran comes as U.S. President Donald Trump weighs whether, against the wishes of America's European allies, to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal. The two leaders talked by phone over the weekend.
Trump has long complained that the pact has not prevented Iran from ballistic missile tests or stopped its military forays in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East. He has until May 12 to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran.
Netanyahu said of Trump, "I'm sure he'll do the right thing" for the U.S., Israel and the world.
In Washington, Trump said of Netanyahu's disclosures about Iran, "That is just not an acceptable situation," adding it "shows I've been 100 percent right" about Iran's nuclear intentions.
But the U.S. leader declined to tip his hand on what he would do about the international agreement in the coming days and said he would be willing to negotiate a new deal with Iran, a notion that Tehran has rejected.
On Sunday, new U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear that Trump will pull the U.S. out of the deal unless it is "fixed" to the U.S.'s liking.
Source: Voice of America