Iran on Thursday night responded with derision to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims of a new “secret atomic warehouse” near Tehran which he said concealed “massive amounts of equipment and material,” during his speech to the UN General Assembly.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a tweet suggested Netanyahu was throwing stones from a glass house, and ridiculed his use of props and oversize display boards.
“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*,” Zarif said. “Time for Israel to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons program to international inspectors.”
Israel is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal but has never publicly acknowledged it.
Zarif further called Netanyahu’s accusation an “obscene charge,” the state-run IRNA news agency reported Friday, and branded the Israeli prime minister a “liar who would not stop lying.”
Meanwhile Tehran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said, “The world will only laugh loudly at this type of false, meaningless and unnecessary speech,” according to a Reuters translation of a Fars news report.
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.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 27, 2018
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Netanyahu’s further allegations that Iran — through the Hezbollah terror group — has built rocket factories in civilian areas in Beirut were simply “made-up excuses to justify attacks” and to violate Lebanon’s sovereignty.
Earlier an Iranian state TV report referred to Netanyahu’s statements as “ridiculous,” and said the country is committed to nonproliferation and Iran’s nuclear program is under surveillance of the IAEA. The website of state TV briefly reported the Netanyahu accusation and called it an “illusion.”
Netanyahu in his speech revealed what he said was a previously unknown Iranian nuclear site, saying it could contain up to 300 tons of nuclear material, and accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of failing to investigate findings that he presented earlier this year about Iran’s nuclear program.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly (full text here), Netanyahu also revealed what he said were Hezbollah precision missile sites hidden in Beirut, warned that Israel would act against Iran “whenever and wherever.”
The prime minister said the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear agency, had failed to take any action after he revealed in April a nuclear archive that Israeli spies managed to spirit out of Iran, and so he was now disclosing what he said was a “secret atomic warehouse” in the Turquzabad district of Tehran, a few miles from the archive.
Netanyahu claimed the warehouse was used for “storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret weapons program,” which was quickly being moved to other parts of the city.
He claimed some 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of radioactive material had been recently removed from this atomic warehouse and squirreled away around Tehran, endangering the capital’s residents. The site may contain as much as 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material in 15 shipping containers, he added.
He did not specify what nuclear material was contained at the site.
The disclosure came four months after Israel announced the existence of what it said was a “half-ton” of Iranian nuclear documents obtained by Israeli intelligence in the Shourabad neighborhood near Tehran.
Israel said the cache proved that Iranian leaders covered up their nuclear weapons program before signing the nuclear agreement. Iran hasn’t acknowledged the alleged seizure.
Both the archive and warehouse, he said, were proof that Iran had not given up its nuclear program.
“Iran has not abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons…. Rest assured that will not happen. What Iran hides, Israel will find,” Netanyahu added.
He urged IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano, who he called “a good man,” to “do the right thing” and “go and inspect this atomic warehouse immediately — before the Iranians finish cleaning it out. Inspect “right here, right now,” he urged, “and inspect the other sites we told you about… Tell the world the truth about Iran.”
Michael Bachner and agencies contributed to this report.