There seems to be a studied inattention to the implications of the trove of documents obtained by Israeli intelligence documenting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. At this point all we have is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presentation to go on, but it is worth watching in its entirety. I posted the video of Netanyahu’s Power Point presentation here. It is posted on YouTube here. The Prime Minister’s office has also posted the text here.
Iran was faced with mounting pressure in 2003. You remember that, that was following the Gulf War, so it was forced to shelve Project Amad [the Iranian nuclear weapons program]. But it didn’t shelve its nuclear ambitions. So Iran devised a plan to do two things. First, to preserve the nuclear know-how from Project Amad, and second, to further develop its nuclear weapons related capabilities. That plan came directly from Iran’s top leadership.
There’s another document from the archive. This is following the new directive of Iran’s Minister of Defense, Mr. Shamkhani, today he’s the director of the National Security Council. Following the new directive of Iran’s Minister of Defense, the work would be split into two parts, covert and overt. A key part of the plan was to form new organizations to continue the work. This is how Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of Project Amad, put it. Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh. So here’s his directive, right here. And he says: “The general aim is to announce the closure of Project Amad,” but then he adds, “Special activities”—you know what that is—“Special activities will be carried out under the title of scientific know-how developments.” And in fact, this is exactly what Iran proceeded to do. It continued this work in a series of organizations over the years, and today, in 2018, this work is carried out by SPND, that’s an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry. And you will not be surprised to hear that SPND is led by the same person that led Project Amad, Dr. Fakhrizadeh, and also, not coincidentally, many of SPND’s key personnel worked under Fakhrizadeh on Project Amad.
So this atomic archive clearly shows that Iran planned, at the highest levels, to continue work related to nuclear weapons under different guises and using the same personnel.
In short, all of Iran’s continuing efforts devoted to uranium enrichment and nuclear research (as well as its ballistic missile program, also addressed by Netanyahu) represent the known aspects of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The program proceeds apace to for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons at a time of Iran’s choosing.
The Iran deal was predicated on the full disclosure by Iran of its nuclear program to the IAEA. The requirement of disclosure was imposed on Iran under the terms of the JCPOA. It resulted in the December 2, 2015 report issued by the IAEA under the title Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme. Query: how is that “final assessment” looking today? See, for example, paragraphs 23 and 24 of the report.
This is the point: “By refusing to come clean on its past nuclear work, the clerical regime prevents nuclear inspectors from establishing a baseline for verification, potentially enabling Tehran to conceal illicit nuclear activities. At the very least, Iran’s caginess suggests that it retains the ability and intent to resume its nuclear program at a time of its choosing.” And these four theses should be nailed to the door of the Obama administration:
In this context, Israel’s intelligence coup offers renewed reasons for concern regarding the JCPOA and Tehran’s ultimate nuclear objectives. First, it suggests that nuclear activities prohibited by the JCPOA may endure at sites where the IAEA has yet to receive access. However, the international community has not pressed the IAEA to demand entry to these locations.
Second, it denotes that Tehran willfully prevaricated when it agreed, as part of the JCPOA, that its nuclear program “will be exclusively peaceful” and “under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” The intelligence also undermines the IAEA’s ability to reach, as the JCPOA requires in the accord’s later years, a credible “Broader Conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities,” which would trigger the lifting of additional sanctions by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union.
Third, it indicates that the threat of Iran’s nuclear program will likely persist after the JCPOA’s key provisions began to expire in 2023. Many supporters of the JCPOA have contended that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which Tehran signed in 1970, will still be sufficient to deter Iran from going nuclear at that time. But Israel’s findings show that Tehran had already been violating the NPT for years before the JCPOA. If the NPT were effective, the international community would never have needed the JCPOA in the first place.
Fourth, as the Institute for Science and International Security noted based on a background briefing it received from Israel, the Jewish state’s discovery includes a wealth of previously unknown information about Iran’s nuclear program, surprising the Israelis by its size and scope. This reality suggests that Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure, upon the onset of the JCPOA’s sunset clauses, may a pose an even greater threat to the United States and its allies than previously imagined.
Raphael Ahren goes over this ground as well in the column “Very existence of Iran’s secret nuclear archive may be a violation of nuke deal.”
Israel’s intelligence feat provides additional evidence supporting President Trump’s assertion that the Iran deal is “the worst deal ever.”