Iran’s nukesThe past as prologue? Iran’s nuclear weapons project

Published 14 May 2018

In a major coup, Israel’s intelligence operatives smuggled tens of thousands of documents from Iran’s nuclear weapons archive – the existence of which Iran had denied – which show the methodical steps Iran took between 199 and 2003 to build nuclear weapons. Two nuclear weapons experts say that the very existence of the archive is proof that Iran not only lied about its past nuclear weapons plans, but also about its future plans.

In his declaration that the US would withdraw from the 2015 deal with Iran, aka the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), U.S. President Donald Trump stated that the information about Iran that Israel uncovered in January and publicly revealed on 30 April is “conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.”

Yet, many reactions to the Israeli exposure of Iran’s secret nuclear archive were much colder. Supporters of the JCPOA spoke in an almost unanimous voice, repeating the same messages. “There is nothing new here,” they concluded. “We knew all along Iran was lying and that it had a nuclear weapons program,” explained U.S. and European politicians involved in the negotiations over the agreement. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said of the Israeli revelations that the deal “was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties; otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.”

Leading non-proliferation analysts soon followed suit. Mark Fitzpatrick claimed that “all of it was information that the International Atomic  Energy Agency (IAEA) already had and has already commented on.”

Jeffrey Lewis detailed in his blog how many of the details Netanyahu was pointing to in his presentation were already noted in the IAEA’s 2015 final assessment of the nuclear activities in Iran. That report provided a stamp of approval for the JCPOA to go ahead. Some argued that the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, was pressured by Obama Administration officials at the time not to offend the Iranians and to make sure his report had enough positive language in it to pass the bar for the deal to come into force.

In a blog post on the website of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), Tzvi Fleischer writes that there is a major problem with the automatic responses, playing down the importance of material obtained by the Mossad from the heart of Teheran. It is simply not true that Israel found nothing new in Teheran’s nuclear archive.