Bennett Releases Docs From Iran's Nuke Archive: 'This Is Their Deception Plan'

'I'm holding right here the proof of your lies in my hands,' Israel's PM said in a video countering Iranian claims that it didn't circumvent nuclear inspections

Sam Sokol
Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, last week.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, last week.Credit: Yonatan Zindel/Flash90
Sam Sokol
Reuters

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released on Tuesday a tranche of what he said were pilfered International Atomic Energy Agency documents, after Tehran denied using reports illegally obtained from the UN nuclear watchdog in order to circumvent inspections of its nuclear program.

The release of the documents, which could not immediately be authenticated by Haaretz, came in response to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s denial of a Wall Street Journal report that his country allegedly used knowledge gleaned from the documents to obfuscate the extent of its nuclear weapons program.

It also comes amid new accusations by Tehran against the nuclear watchdog, possibly setting up a fresh diplomatic clash with the West.

“Unfortunately, the Zionists are spreading a lot of lies,” Amir-Abdollahian told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

“Spreading lies? Come on. I'm holding right here the proof of your lies in my hands,” Bennett countered in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday. “You see, after Iran stole classified documents from the UN’s Atomic Agency, Iran used that information to figure out what the Atomic Agency was hoping to find, and then created cover stories and hid evidence to evade their nuclear probes.”

“So how do we know this? Because we got our hands on Iran’s deception plan a few years back. And it’s right here in my hands,” he said, showing off a stack of documents in Farsi, one of which he said contained a handwritten note by a former defense chief calling for the creation of a “comprehensive cover story” to present the IAEA.

According to the Journal’s report, top Iranian officials reviewed confidential documents belonging to the United Nations agency between 2004 and 2006, using them as they “prepared cover stories and falsified a record to conceal suspected past work on nuclear weapons.”

The documents were among 100,000 stolen from Iran by the Mossad and revealed to the world by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —who said that they were “new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years”— in 2018.

Iran has long denied that it is developing nuclear weapons, claiming that its program is strictly civilian in nature.

The Journal wrote that the documents had been confirmed by a former agency official and that it had obtained them from an unnamed “Middle East intelligence agency that hails from a country that opposes Iran’s nuclear program.”

“Some documents include handwritten notes in Persian on IAEA documents and attachments with Iranian commentary,” the paper reported, noting that a number of the documents reviewed by its journalists had attached notes, in which "Iranian credited ‘intelligence methods’ for obtaining the IAEA reports.”

The documents were used to prepare for international inspections, providing the Iranians with knowledge of the extent of the IAEA’s intelligence regarding their nuclear program and even the questions inspectors planned on asking, the report stated.

In a subsequent tweet, Bennett posted a link to a Google Drive folder containing what he said were excepts from the documents as well as an animated cartoon showing Iranian officials running rings around a clueless IAEA inspector.

“Iran lied to the world. Iran is again lying to the world. And the world must make sure that Iran doesn’t get away with it,” the video stated.

'Pressure from the Zionists'

Iran accused the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday of publishing an unfair report on its investigation into Tehran's nuclear activities.

The UN watchdog on Monday said Iran had not credibly answered long-standing questions about the origin of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites, despite a fresh push for a breakthrough.

"Unfortunately this report does not reflect the reality of talks between Iran and the agency," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Tuesday.

"This is not a fair nor balanced report, and it seems that pressure from the Zionists and other actors has diverted the path of technical reports to the political field - and we expect this trend to be corrected," he said.

The lack of progress could set up a new diplomatic clash with the West when the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors meets next week. If Western powers seek a resolution criticizing Tehran, it could deal a further blow to stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Those powers have until now repeatedly shied away from admonishing Iran at the board on the same issue fearing it could jeopardize the nuclear talks.

"We call on Iran to respond without delay to the questions and needs of the IAEA under its safeguards agreement," France's deputy foreign ministry spokesman, Francois Delmas, told reporters.

"We are in close consultation with our partners on the follow-up to be given to this situation at the next Board of Governors."

Iran and the United States engaged in indirect talks in Vienna over the past year to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers which then-U.S. President Donald Trump left in 2018.

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