Spotlight: Israel reveals evidence of Iran's nuclear ambitions after 2015 nuke deal

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed at a press conference what he called a "great intelligence a...

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed at a press conference what he called a "great intelligence achievement" about Iran's nuclear program, hours after an emergency cabinet meeting.

With copies of hundreds of thousands of documents and digital files, Netanyahu said he had proof that Iran has been seeking nuclear power even after it signed an agreement curbing its nuclear program in 2015.

He said the documents were moved to a secret location in Tehran after the agreement was signed.

Only a limited number of Iranians and "a few Israelis" had access to the "half ton" of documents, the Israeli leader added.

Netanyahu has long been a critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the six world powers.

Iran, however, has repeatedly denied its ambition to develop nuclear weapons.

With an ally at the White House, the Israeli leader is hoping for a major amendment to the agreement or its complete annulment, as the May 12 deadline is looming for U.S. President Donald Trump to decide whether to withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran.

"The timing of the statement is related to the fact that Netanyahu feels there are cracks in the West regarding the nuclear agreement," said Menahem Merhavy, an expert on Iran at the Harry Truman Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

"He wants to show that the agreement is a scam by bringing out the heavy diplomatic and intelligence guns," he noted.

The timing of the disclosure is apparently no coincidence, assuming Israel has held these documents for at least several weeks.

"Netanyahu assumes Trump will withdraw from the agreement and will be able to market this in Israel as his ability to influence the move and as a victory of his policy," Nimrod Goren, head of Mitvim, The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, told Xinhua.

The disclosure came hours after an allegedly Israeli missile strike targeting military positions in Syria.

Reports said scores of people were killed in the airstrike, most of them Iranians.

Israel is believed to have been behind several such attacks in an attempt to stop its enemies in both Syria and Lebanon from acquiring game-changing weapons to be used in a future conflict.

Iran has sent thousands of fighters to help Syrian President Bashar Assad in a seven-year-long civil war that has weakened his regime.

The Israeli leader has repeatedly said he will not allow Iran to consolidate its presence in Syria.

The bulk of Netanyahu's televised statement was made in English, signalling that his main audience was the international community and the U.S. government.

The Israeli prime minister said he will forward copies of the documents to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) for its review.

Eran Ezion, former deputy head of Israel's National Security Council, said Iran and the international community have lost deniability in the light of the Israeli discovery.

"It cannot continue to be business as usual," Ezion told Xinhua. "This should trigger international action. The material needs to be checked under the mechanism of the JCPOA."

"The documents prove beyond a doubt that Iran did not give proper disclosure to the IAEA about its program despite its obligation to do so," he said.

Emily Landau, a senior research fellow & head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said the acquiescence of the international community to "Iran's false narrative of nuclear innocence" will now be difficult to maintain.

Tensions between Iran and Israel have been running high in recent weeks.

Iran, which is believed to have carried out deadly attacks against Israeli targets abroad, has vowed retaliation for what it claims are Israeli strikes on its military positions in Syria.

"Iran will react, not necessarily immediately though," Merhavy told Xinhua.

"I believe the retaliation will not be on Israeli soil but somewhere else. This is more convenient for Iran which is trying not to reach a head-on collision in Israel," the Israeli expert said.

-Source: News Agency

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Local Glob: Spotlight: Israel reveals evidence of Iran's nuclear ambitions after 2015 nuke deal
Spotlight: Israel reveals evidence of Iran's nuclear ambitions after 2015 nuke deal
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