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Satellite image of airtstrike on Hama (ImageSat International ISI)

IAEA dismisses Israeli claims of Iranian nuclear programme

Following Israel's most recent claims that Iran is lying about its nuclear programme, the IAEA provided a statement to dismiss such claims.

Published: May 2, 2018, 11:36 am

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    The UN’s international nuclear watchdog repeated on Tuesday that it had “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009,” citing IAEA assessments from 2015.

    In December 2015, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano presented the Final Assessment on past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme to the IAEA Board of Governors.
    […]
    The Agency’s overall assessment was that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assessed that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.
    […]
    Based on the Director General’s report, the Board of Governors declared that its consideration of this issue was closed.

    Iran did feasibility studies to assess what was needed to start a nuclear weapon development programme, but never actually started such a program.

    The feasibility studies were directed against Iraq. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, any potential danger of a hostile Iraq was removed and Iran shut down its probe. It was subsequently confirmed in a US National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 as well as by the IAEA.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented old material of Iran’s feasibility studies done before 2003, already well known, including all the technical details, his critics say.

    Netanyahu however claimed that he had new “proof” that Iran’s nuclear weapons program could be reactivated at any time.

    The Israeli leader’s presententation coincides with US President Donald Trump’s decision on whether to pull out of the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers.

    Under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) — signed by Iran, the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

    NBC news meanwhile reported that the Israeli Air Force used F-15 fighter jets on Sunday to target a “recent Iranian weapons shipment” delivered to Syria’s Hama air base.

    Three unnamed American officials told NBC news on Tuesday that Israel attacked an allegedly Iranian-controlled military base in northern Syria this week. Israel appears to be preparing for active conflict with US assistance.

    Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told The Times of Israel that surface-to-surface missiles with heavy warheads belonging to Iran were hit. Israel has refused to publicly comment on the strike.

    Israeli satellite images revealed the damage caused to the site, showing at least 13 buildings that were hit in the strike on the Hama base.

    Neither Russia, Syria nor Iran has publicly accused Israel of carrying it the attack. Iran denounced Netanyahu’s presentation of an alleged Iranian nuclear programme as a “propaganda show”.

    President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Israel at the initiative of the Israeli side.

    The Russian leader expressed the same view taken by the EU’s Foreign Policy chief Frederica Mogherini.

    Mogherini said the JCPOA deal was not based on assumptions of good faith or trust, but “on concrete commitments, verification mechanisms and a very strict monitoring of facts, done by the IAEA. The IAEA has published 10 reports, certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments”.

    Netanyahu’s claims have also been branded as “old news” by former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

    In an interview with CNN, Netanyahu reasserted his claim that Iran was “brazenly lying” about its nuclear programme prior to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

    CNN’s New Day host Chris Cuomo asked Netanyahu about Israel’s nuclear capability, but the prime minister refused to answer the question. Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, with an estimated arsenal of up to 400 warheads; which would make it the world’s third biggest arsenal.

    It has however has made extensive efforts to deny other regional nations the ability to acquire their own nuclear weapons, as the counter-proliferation, preventive strike Begin Doctrine is part of Israel’s existing nuclear policy.

    There are three de facto nuclear-weapon states that are outside the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT): Israel, India, and Pakistan.

    Washington’s legal commitments may sadly no longer inspire trust in the international arena, as a US pullout from the JCPOA will undermine the survival of other agreements the US enters into.

    Russia already discovered that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty – signed by President Nixon and ratified by the US Senate – was cancelled at the behest of the George W. Bush administration.

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