PM asks UN secretary-general to request IAEA investigation of Iran nuclear sites

Netanyahu wants inspections of warehouse whose existence he revealed in UNGA speech; also meets Rwandan president to discuss Iranian aggression

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) in New York, September 27, 2018 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) in New York, September 27, 2018 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and asked that he request the International Atomic Energy Agency inspect what he said were previously unknown Iranian nuclear sites, one of whose existence he revealed in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu on Thursday said one of the sites could contain up to 300 tons of nuclear material, and accused the IAEA of failing to investigate findings that he presented earlier this year about Iran’s nuclear program.

He asked Guterres to request an investigation by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, the PMO said Friday.

Netanyahu also raised the issue of the Israeli citizens and bodies of Israeli soldiers held by Hamas, telling Guterres that the UN must increase pressure on Hamas to release them. Netanyahu reiterated that he believes the UN has a particular responsibility on the issue as they brokered the 2014 ceasefire, during which IDF soldier Hadar Goldin was kidnapped as part of the Hamas violation of the agreement.

Hamas is presumed to be holding the bodies of fallen soldiers Oron Shaul and Goldin, as well as Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, holds up a placard showing a suspected Iranian atomic site while delivering a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018 in New York City. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

In his Thursday speech to the United Nations General Assembly (full text here), 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 revealing 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.

An image from a placard displayed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly showing a suspected “secret atomic warehouse” in the Turquzabad district of Tehran containing up to 300 tons of nuclear material. (GPO)

He urged IAEA director-general 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.”

There was no immediate reaction from the IAEA, which Netanyahu said had ignored Israeli information on the nuclear sites and more than 100,000 documents on Iran’s nuclear program he revealed earlier this year.

Pulling out more placards, Netanyahu also showed the plenum what he said were sites hidden near Beirut’s international airport housing precision missiles for the Hezbollah terror group, an Iranian proxy, and warned that Israel would act against Iran “whenever and wherever.”

Rwanda meeting

Netanyahu also met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday, where the two leaders discussed regional threats and the Iranian aggression, according to an Israeli government statement.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in the Horn of Africa and the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Rwandan President Paul Kagame (L) in New York, September 27, 2018 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Netanyahu apparently asked for Kagame’s assistance in advancing ties with additional African countries.

In May, Rwanda denied it had ever made an agreement with Israel to take in deported asylum seekers, responding to Netanyahu’s claim that it had backed out of a deal he had spent two years working on.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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