Netanyahu claims Iranians lied about nukes

Image: Israeli Prime Minister speaks on Iran in Tel Aviv
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Monday's news conference. Copyright Jim Hollander
By Alastair Jamieson and Paul Goldman and Associated Press and Corky Siemaszko with NBC News World News
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It comes 12 days ahead of Trump's deadline for fixing or abandoning the Iran nuclear deal.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Monday that he had "new and conclusive" proof that the Iranians were making nuclear weapons.

The evidence of what he called Project Amad, a program to design, build and test nuclear weapons, is contained in 55,000 pages of documents and 55,000 files on CD's that the Israelis sneaked out of a nondescript storage facility in Tehran where Iran's nuclear secrets are held, Netanyahu said.

Speaking on a platform in front of reporters at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu swept aside a black curtain to show a shelf filled with copies of the purported files. "Iran lied, big time, after signing the nuclear deal in 2015," he said. "Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program. The files prove that."

Iran may have shelved Project Amad in 2003, but it didn't "shelve its nuclear ambitions" and continues to preserve and expand its nuclear capabilities, he said.

Netanyahu said the evidence has been turned over to the U.S., including "incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more."

"The United States can vouch for its authenticity," said Netanyahu, repeatedly insisting that Iran "lied" as he buttressed his claims with a PowerPoint presentation.

A U.S. official confirmed to Bloomberg News that Israel had shared the files with the U.S. and that the U.S. had verified the material as authentic.

During a news conference with the president of Nigeria on Monday, Trump said Netanyahu's revelation was "just not an acceptable situation."

"What's happening today," Trump said, "has really shown that I've been 100 percent right." A

After wrapping up his presentation, Netanyahu left without taking any questions from reporters.

There was no immediate response from the Iranians to Netanyahu's dramatic claims.

Netanyahu had alerted reporters earlier Monday that he was going to announce what his office billed as a "significant development" regarding the Iran nuclear deal, which he wants President Donald Trump to scrap.

The announcement came a day after Netanyahu met new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tel Aviv and two days after he spoke with Trump by phone.

It also comes 12 days ahead of Trump's deadline for amending the 2015 agreement or walking away from it.

The Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, offered Tehran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for agreeing to curb its nuclear program.

While there is broad consensus that Iran is abiding by the agreement with the U.S., Russia, China and three European powers, Israel has have long opposed the pact, which was one of the main foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration.

The Jewish state says the deal has not curbed Iran's wider aggression, such as its support for Hezbollah — a powerful Lebanese militia and political group — and its role in conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tel Aviv on Sunday.Thomas Coex

"President Trump's been pretty clear," Pompeo said Sunday in Tel Aviv. "This deal is very flawed. He's directed the administration to try and fix it, and if we can't fix it, he's going to withdraw from the deal."


He added: "We remain deeply concerned about Iran's dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran's ambition to dominate the Middle East remains."

Pompeo also listed Iran's non-nuclear threats, including the introduction of thousands of proxy fighters to the Syrian civil war — something that has inspired Israel to carry out missile strikes, including a suspected attack late Sunday.

In his previous role as CIA director, Pompeo consistently portrayed Iran as the focus of evil in the Middle East and a worldwide threat.

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