Iranian officials on Monday lambasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation about Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions as “childish” and “ridiculous.”
Deputy Defense Minister Abbas Araghchi said, “Netanyahu’s childish and ridiculous presentation was planned in the run up to Trump’s announcement about the nuclear deal.”
US President Donald Trump is to decide whether he’ll quit the landmark agreement by May 12 — the next deadline to waive sanctions against the Islamic Republic under the deal. Trump last signed those waivers in January, but he said he would not do so again unless Congress and European allies amend the pact.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Netanyahu’s claims “baseless” and aimed at deceiving world governments, Lebanon’s Al Manar reported.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said Netanyahu was “famous for ridiculous shows.” The semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Guards, dismissed his speech as a “propaganda show.”
Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu accused Iran of lying about its nuclear program during a speech broadcast on TV.
He revealed information which he said showed that the Islamic Republic had for years worked on developing nuclear weapons, and put in place plans to continue doing so after signing the 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers.
The premier, who has repeatedly called for the accord with Iran to either be altered or scrapped, said Israel had obtained 100,000 secret Iranian files a few weeks ago in one the “greatest achievements” of Israeli intelligence.
Speaking in English at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu gave a presentation including videos and slides he said exposed Iran’s nuclear dossier.
“You may well know that Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons,” he said, before playing clips of Iran’s supreme leader, president and foreign minister denying the country ever sought such capabilities weapons.
“Iran lied. Big time,” said Netanyahu, adding that the trove included a half-ton of material.
Trump said following Netanyahu’s press conference that “what’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while and what we’ve learned has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right.”
Zarif, on Twitter, responded that “Trump is jumping on a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the [International Atomic Energy Agency] to ‘nix’ the deal. How convenient.” He added that the Israeli reveal was coordinated with the US ahead of the May 12 deadline.
Pres. Trump is jumping on a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA to “nix” the deal. How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf just days before May 12. But Trump’s impetuousness to celebrate blew the cover. https://t.co/5gxmmZcrF7
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 30, 2018
Trump has derided the 2015 agreement as “insane,” partly because its restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities begin expiring in 2025.
Most world powers however say the nuclear deal is working as intended for now and is the best way to keep Iran from acquiring the bomb.
Iran has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program was for civilian purposes. Netanyahu said the evidence from Iran’s own archive proved it had “brazenly” lied and that the 2015 nuclear deal was built upon “Iranian deception.”