UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

'Iran Lied': Bennett Accuses Tehran of Stealing Documents to Deceive IAEA Over Nuclear Programme

Sputnik News

20220531
Oleg Burunov

The PM's finger-pointing comes as parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal seek to finalise the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The US unilaterally left the deal in 2018, a move that prompted Iran to scrap its obligations.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has accused Iran of using stolen documents to "evade probes" from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a video posted online, Bennett cited documents from the Iranian nuclear archive that the Mossad reportedly smuggled to Israel in 2018. The documents allegedly indicate that Tehran used information from stolen classified IAEA documents of 2004-2005 to reassure the UN nuclear watchdog that the Islamic Republic was not carrying out covert nuclear enrichment.

According to the Israeli PM, Iran "created cover stories and hid evidence to evade nuclear probes". Bennett showed a number of the reported documents to the press.

"Here it is, in the Persian language, hundreds of pages marked with the stamp of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence. There are even some handwritten notes on the documents by senior Iranian officials", he said, accusing both Iran's defence minister and former-nuclear programme chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh of having scribed on the documents. "Sooner or later they [the IAEA] will ask us - and we'll need to have a comprehensive cover story for them", they reportedly wrote.

Bennett also called on the international community to act, alleging that "Iran lied to the world, Iran is lying to the world again right now, and the world must make sure that Iran doesn't get away scot-free."

The claims come as Tehran hit out at the IAEA over its latest report on the Islamic Republic's atomic activities, which mentioned undeclared nuclear material which was allegedly found at three sites.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told journalists on Tuesday that Monday's report "does not reflect the reality of the negotiations between Iran and the IAEA".

"It's not a fair and balanced report. We expect this path to be corrected", Khatibzadeh pointed out. In the report, the IAEA made it clear that it still had questions which were "not clarified" regarding undeclared nuclear material reportedly found at Iran's Marivan, Varamin and Turquzabad sites.

The IAEA also claimed that Tehran's stockpile of enriched uranium is more than 18 times the limit established in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The report asserted that it "estimated that, as of 15 May 2022, Iran's total enriched stockpile was 3,809.3 kg".

Vienna Talks on JCPOA's Revival

The UN nuclear watchdog's document was released after IAEA chief Rafael Grossi argued that the nuclear aspects of the JCPOA deal, which is being re-negotiated in Vienna, have been "pretty much finalised" last week, but that talks have stumbled on non-nuclear issues.

In 2015, the EU, the UK, Germany, China, Russia, the US, France and Iran signed the JCPOA, which resulted in the lifting of sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear programme.

In May 2018, Trump ordered the US' unilateral withdrawal from the deal and imposed numerous sanctions on Iran, which in turn announced that restrictions on nuclear research and uranium enrichment would not be further respected. After taking office in January 2021, US President Joe Biden said he was seeking to revive the deal and renew US commitments. The Vienna talks were launched in April 2021, but have stalled recently as both Washington and Tehran refuse to lower the bar of their demands.

Washington made it clear that it will return to the deal only if Iran first reduces its uranium enrichment and stockpiling to JCPOA prescribed levels. Iran, in turn, has repeatedly underlined that the ball is in the US' court and that the removal of sanctions is Tehran's "red line".

In late April 2018, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu torpedoed the talks by unveiling what he described as a "half tonne" of Iranian nuclear documents collected by Israeli intelligence. According to the former PM, the information proved that Iranian leaders covered-up a nuclear weapons programme before signing the JCPOA.

At the time, Netanyahu claimed that the material proved that Tehran could not be trusted, and encouraged then-US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal.

© Sputnik



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list