Israeli prime minister claims Iran has secret atomic warehouse


John D’Alessandro, The Carroll News

Originally published 4 October 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that Iran is operating a “secret atomic warehouse,” calling the allegations an “obscene charge” in a statement Sept. 28 on Iranian state television.

Zarif’s statement, which went on to call Netanyahu a “liar who would not stop lying,” according to Iranian state news agency IRNA, came on the heels of accusations Netanyahu made before the United Nations General Assembly last week that a facility on the outskirts of Tehran once housed 33 pounds of radioactive material that has since been relocated.

Netanyahu claims the aerial photographs of the facility that he presented to the General Assembly prove that Iran has violated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action made in 2015, in which the Iranian government agreed to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions levied against it.

The United States, one of six other countries involved in the deal, withdrew from the JCPOA and reinstated economic sanctions against Iran in May, with President Donald Trump citing the Iranian ballistic missile program and its support of militant groups such as Hezbollah to justify his belief that the JCPOA is not doing enough to limit Iran’s nuclear development capability.

John Carroll Political Science Professor Mona DeBaz pointed out that this is “not the first time” Netanyahu has gone before the General Assembly to present accusations that Iran is developing a nuclear arsenal. She referred to a 2012 incident in which Netanyahu held up an image of a cartoon bomb in a speech warning that Iran was supposedly close to producing a working nuclear weapon.

“Whether it is true or not, we don’t know, but Netanyahu certainly enjoys the attention,” DeBaz stated.

Netanyahu’s address went on to call for U.N. inspectors to be sent to the facility with Geiger counters to determine whether radioactive material had once been present.

“I am disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran, a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran’s secret nuclear program,” Netanyahu said.

Bahram Qassemi, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, told Fars News that Netanyahu’s claims are unlikely to be taken seriously.

“The world will only laugh loudly at this type of false, meaningless and unnecessary speech and false shows,” he said.

Zarif, taking to Twitter, called for closer scrutiny of the Israeli nuclear program, which has long been an open secret in the international community.

“No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons program – including an *actual atomic arsenal*. Time for Israel to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons program to international inspectors,” he tweeted.

A U.S. intelligence official told Reuters that the United States is aware of the facility Netanyahu indicated, and that the facility stores “records and archives” pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program.

“We have known about this facility for some time, and it’s full of file cabinets and paper, not aluminum tubes for centrifuges,” a second U.S. intelligence official added.

Editor’s Note: Information from The Associated Press and NBC News was used in this report.