Netanyahu accuses Iran of cheating on nuclear deal

Introduction — April 30, 2018

Netanyahu appearing before the UN General Assembly in 2012 to warn of the threat posed by Iran. Since then we've seen no hard evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons drive, although we've heard plenty more allegations. Click to enlarge

Netanyahu appearing before the UN General Assembly in 2012 to warn of the threat posed by Iran. Since then we’ve seen no hard evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons drive, although we’ve heard plenty more allegations. Click to enlarge

Somehow we don’t think that Netanyahu’s pronouncement is going to convince that many. Like the boy who cried wolf, we’ve heard this all before.
However, the timing of his announcement is crucial. So although it may not convince many it may have a political impact way beyond the number it sways.
On May 12 President Trump is due to pronounce on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran. Netanyahu’s allegation gives Trump the ammunition he needs to pull out of the accord and double-down with more sanctions.
No matter that Netanyahu has made similar claims and predictions in the past, all of which remain either unproven or unfulfilled. The point is that such pronouncements were used to prepare the ground for more sanctions and diplomatic moves against the Islamic Republic.
Of course it’s not written in stone that President Trump will pull out of the accord. But given his recent approval for missile strikes on Syria, on the basis of completely groundless allegations from the Syrian White Helmets, there’s good reason to believe that he will.
The big question is how everyone else will react. The Europeans, who until recently were urging Trump to remain with the JCPOA, may now reassess their position. Netanyahu’s announcement is probably intended to assist in that process. Having seen how readily they accepted Britain’s version of the Skripal’s poisoning, Netanyahu is no doubt hoping for the same easy acceptance.
However, Russia is not going to be so easily convinced. Like Iran, Russia has been pushed into a corner by sanctions so we suspect that Moscow and Tehran will grow closer as the West steps up the pressure. Ed.

Netanyahu accuses Iran of cheating on nuclear deal

Oliver Holmes — The Guardian April 30, 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of hiding a nuclear armaments programme that continued to operate despite 2015 agreement with global powers, presenting what he said was “new and conclusive proof”.

In a televised prime-time speech on Monday, the country’s prime minister said Israel had tens of thousands of documents from what he called Iran’s “Atomic Archives” which he said had been shared with the US.

“Iran lied, big time,” he said, speaking from Israel’s military headquarters in Tel Aviv. “Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons programme.”

Netanyahu had lobbied hard against the 2015 deal that lifted some sanctions on his arch-enemy Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, labelling it from the outset as “a bad mistake of historic proportions”.

He has backed Donald Trump’s threats to walk away from the Barak Obama-era deal, which the US administration has sought to discredit for its limited, 10-year-duration and its failure to address Iran’s long-range missiles programme.

Netanyahu, who is known for theatrical presentations, pulled black sheets from a cabinet filled with folders that he said were copies of 55,000 pages of “incriminating” evidence. He revealed a screen to which close to 200 CDs had been affixed, saying they held videos and photos of clandestine Iranian nuclear research and development.

“Even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons programme for future use,” he said, speaking in English.

“The Iran deal, the nuclear deal, is based on lies,” he said, adding that he was sure, Trump would “do the right thing” when deciding on whether to pull out of the Iran deal.

Trump has pledged to withdraw from the deal next month, saying that unless European allies fix the “terrible flaws” in the plan by 12 May, he will refuse to extend US sanctions relief, effectively ending the agreement.

Netanyahu spoke by phone with Trump this weekend, according to the White House, which said the two leaders discussed “the Iranian regime’s destabilising activities”, a nod to Tehran’s military reach across the Middle East.

The announcement also comes less than 24 hours after the prime minister met Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, who said Washington was “deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats towards Israel and the region”.

Long bitter foes, Iran and Israel have repeatedly warned of the prospects of a direct war as Tehran entrenches its forces in Syria while Israel launches air raids on its operations.

Late on Sunday, several military targets were hit at a Syrian base in central Hama province, a strike a conflict monitor said killed mostly Iranians. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack appeared to have been carried out by Israel, although Israel’s government did not comment.

Iran has sent thousands of fighters to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria’s seven-year conflict, but Israel accuses it of using the war-torn country, with which it shares a border, as a base for attacks.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has warned that if the US pulls out of the nuclear deal, Tehran would be “highly unlikely” to remain inside and the consequences “will not be very pleasant for the United States”.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s announcement, he tweeted that the Israeli prime minister was “the boy who can’t stop crying wolf”.

The other powers that signed the agreement – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France – have attempted to preserve it.

Britain announced this weekend that it, France and Germany had agreed to broaden the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action (JCPOA), to cover ballistic missiles.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, also spent three days in Washington last week in an attempt to persuade Trump not to abandon it.

At the end of his trip, Macron conceded he had probably failed. Speaking to reporters before departing from Washington, he said: “My view – I don’t know what your president will decide – is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons.”

Netanyahu had held an urgent security cabinet meeting earlier on Monday. Israel is believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear power, although it refuses to confirm or deny that it has nuclear weapons.