TV report: Iran’s storage, transfer of nuclear files may breach 2015 accord

Though files recovered by Israel do not indicate current weapons program, one clause forbidding computer models for weapons could cause problems for Tehran, Hadashot says

A photo of a nuclear implosion system, as obtained by Israel from a trove of secret Iranian files (Prime Minister's Office)
A photo of a nuclear implosion system, as obtained by Israel from a trove of secret Iranian files (Prime Minister's Office)

Though Israel’s captured trove of 100,000 Iranian documents on the Islamic republic’s past clandestine nuclear weapons program contained no smoking gun on Tehran’s current actions — no proof that it is actively violating the terms of the 2015 nuclear accord by developing weapons — one particular clause in the deal may have been breached, Hadashot news reported Tuesday.

Under clause T82.1 in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran vows that it will not engage in “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” These include “designing, developing, acquiring, or using computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices.”

Unlike some of the clauses in the JCPOA, clause 82 is not a “sunset” clause, meaning it has no time limit and no expiration date.

US government officials told Hadashot that Tehran’s retention of such models after the deal was signed, as shown by the files obtained by Israel — and particularly its reported transfer of the files between different locations as it sought to keep them hidden — could very well be seen as a breach of the terms of the deal.

According to the report, such a breach could lead the International Atomic Energy Agency to refrain in the future from ratifying Iran’s compliance with the accord.

Israel’s reveal of the intelligence trove on Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions was met with skepticism by world leaders who support the accord, many of which noted that there was no actual evidence that the 2015 accord had been violated.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s elaborate presentation live on television Monday night came ahead of a crucial decision by US President Donald Trump by May 12 on whether to withdraw from the nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran.

“I have not seen from Prime Minister Netanyahu arguments for the moment on non-compliance, meaning violation by Iran of its nuclear commitments under the deal,” European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said.

“And again, the deal was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties, otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.”

The IAEA said Tuesday it had “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009,” citing its assessments from 2015.

France’s foreign ministry said Netanyahu’s claims reinforced the importance of the nuclear deal.

So did Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. “The Israeli prime minister’s presentation on Iran’s past research into nuclear weapons technology underlines the importance of keeping the Iran nuclear deal’s constraints on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions,” Johnson said in a Foreign Office statement.

The statement went on, “The Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust about Iran’s intentions; rather it is based on tough verification, including measures that allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program.”

“The verification provisions in the Iran nuclear deal would make it harder for Iran to restart any such research. That is another good reason for keeping the deal while building on it in order to take account of the legitimate concerns of the US and our other allies,” Johnson added.

Trump, however, welcomed Netanyahu’s presentation, as did his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with the Israeli leader on Sunday in Tel Aviv.

The White House caused some confusion with its statement on the Israeli trove, at first saying it showed Iran “has” a secret nuclear weapons program before later changing it to “had.” It later explained that the use of “has” was a typo, which it quickly corrected.

“These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” the statement said.

“The Iranian regime has shown it will use destructive weapons against its neighbors and others. Iran must never have nuclear weapons.”

Trump and his Middle East allies, particularly Israel, argue that the agreement approved by Barack Obama was too weak and needs to be replaced with a more permanent arrangement and supplemented by controls on Iran’s missile program.

The Israeli premier has repeatedly called for the accord — which Iran signed with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — to either be altered or scrapped.

Iran has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program was for civilian purposes.

Netanyahu has said Israel will share the information it has gathered with world powers.

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