Iran accuses Netanyahu of seeking war after nuclear site reveal

Foreign minister says Israel ‘crying wolf,’ points to 2002 deposition in which prime minister urged Congress to remove Iraq’s Hussein; UN envoy accuses US of breaking NPT

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks to journalists during a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks to journalists during a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)

Iran responded furiously to Israel’s revelation that it uncovered a previously unknown nuclear facility, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of marching to war at all costs.

In a televised address Monday, Netanyahu said Tehran had conducted experiments in the pursuit of nuclear weapons at the secret nuclear facility in central Iran, violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Responding to Netanyahu, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Israeli leader of seeking a war with his country.

“The possessor of REAL nukes cries wolf—on an ALLEGED ‘demolished’ site in Iran,” he wrote on Twitter.

“He & #B_Team just want a war, no matter innocent blood & another $7 TRILLION,” he added, referring to Netanyahu, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.

Zarif also tweeted a 2002 video of Netanyahu speaking to Congress about what he claims will be the positive affects of removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power, and a newspaper report from 1986 on Israel’s alleged secret nuclear arsenal.

Iran on Monday also accused the United States of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by modernizing its nuclear weapons instead of moving toward disarmament.

Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi cited progress in achieving a universal ban on nuclear explosions and the broader objective of nuclear disarmament but said “unfortunately, currently, there are two alarming races: new nuclear arms race and nuclear arms modernization race.”

He told Monday’s UN General Assembly’s commemoration of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests that “irresponsible policies” like those of the US “are detrimental to all international efforts towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and therefore must come to an end.”

Iranian envoy to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi briefs journalists outside the Security Council on June 24, 2019. (Loey Felipe/UN)

Ravanchi stressed that voluntary moratoriums on nuclear testing “cannot substitute for a comprehensive universal and verifiable legally binding prohibition on all types of nuclear explosions, including in alternative ways.”

He urged redoubled effort to pursue “the noble objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Iran is widely believed to have sought a nuclear weapon before agreeing to curb enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief in 2015.

Netanyahu’s reveal was the latest in a series of statements he has made using Israeli intelligence to accuse Iran of continuing to seek a nuclear weapon, urging the deal’s remaining signatories to leave the landmark pact.

The US left the agreement last year, putting sanctions back in place. Iran has begun to increase enrichment activity in response as it pushes for Europe to bypass the US penalties.

Netanyahu said Israel’s discovery of the site was made possible by a Mossad raid on a warehouse in Tehran last year housing Iran’s secret nuclear weapons archives.

Once Iran detected that Israel had learned about the secret nuclear site, located in Abadeh, south of Isfahan, the regime quickly destroyed it, Netanyahu said. The prime minister, who showed before and after photos of the site captioned June and July of this year, did not specify the nature of the experiments conducted there.

“When Iran realized that we uncovered the site, here’s what they did: they destroyed the site,” Netanyahu said. “They just wiped it out. They wiped out the site… They destroyed the evidence or at least tried to destroy the evidence.”

At last year’s United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu revealed the existence of a warehouse tied to Iran’s nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this month confirmed it had found residue of enriched uranium at the site and urged Iran to explain them. But the regime in Tehran has so far failed to do so.

“This is what I have to say to the tyrants of Iran: Israel knows what you’re doing, Israel knows when you’re doing it, and Israel knows where you’re doing it,” Netanyahu added, speaking first in Hebrew and then repeating his statement in English. “We’ll continue to expose your lies.”

Netanyahu, who delivered his brief remarks in Hebrew and then in English, went on to urge world powers to join sanctions the US has imposed on Iran since Washington unilaterally quit the 2015 pact. The other signatories — China, Russia, France, Germany, and the UK — are all steadfastly trying to salvage the deal.

“I call on the international community to wake up, to realize that Iran is systematically [violating the deal],” the premier said. “The only way to stop Iran’s march to the bomb, and its aggression in the region, is pressure, pressure, and more pressure.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the press regarding the Iranian nuclear program, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on September 9, 2019 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Responding to criticism that Netanyahu had revealed the existence of the third nuclear facility in Iran one week before the elections for political reasons, a diplomatic source said officials at professional levels recommended that he reveal the information immediately, following Monday’s press conference by the head of the IAEA.

He was also speaking days after US President Donald Trump said it was “possible” that he would meet with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

AP contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: