White House: Israel trove shows ‘new and compelling details’ on Iran nuke effort

Washington is carefully examining material released by Netanyahu; Pompeo confirms documents are authentic, contain new information

US President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 30, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 30, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

WASHINGTON — The White House said late Monday that the trove of information released earlier by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, until last week director of the CIA, said the documents were authentic and much of it was new to US experts.

The White House statement came after Netanyahu’s broadcast, in which the prime minister revealed that Israel obtained 100,000 secret Iranian documents pertaining to Tehran’s nuclear program program.

“The United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully,” the White House said.

“This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” it said. “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.

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

Pompeo met Netanyahu on Sunday at Israel’s military headquarters and was briefed on the material, which was released as Washington’s new top diplomat flew home.

“We’ve known about this material for a while and we certainly discussed this material yesterday when we were together,” Pompeo told reporters on his plane.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) is seen with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 29, 2018. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

“It’s been something that’s been in the works for a while. I know that there are people talking about these documents not being authentic. I can confirm with you, for you, that these documents are real, they are authentic.”

Asked whether the United States had been aware for many years that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program — dubbed Project Amad — before 2004, Pompeo said: “That’s partly true. The existence of the Amad program ended roughly in December 2003, January 2004.

“It’s accurate to say that the knowledge of that, the fact of that, has been known for quite some time, but there are thousands of new documents and new information,” the top US diplomat added. “We’re still going through it, there’s still a lot of work to do to figure out the scope and scale of it, but it is the case that there is new information about that program.”

Earlier Monday, during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, US President Donald Trump said that, “What we’ve learned has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right.”

“That is just not an acceptable situation, and I’ve been saying that’s happening,” he continued, standing alongside Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. “They’re not sitting back idly. They’re setting off missiles, which they say are for television purposes? I don’t think so.”

The American leader also declined to share whether he’s decided to walk away from 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 again unless Congress and European allies amend the pact.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing, but a lot of people think they know. On or before the 12th, we’ll make a decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement. You know, this is an agreement that wasn’t approved by too many people, and it’s a horrible agreement for the United States, including the fact… that we gave Iran $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash.

“You know what we got?” Trump went on. “We got nothing. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t negotiate a new agreement, we’ll see what happens.”

Trump’s press conference came less than an hour after the Israeli premier delivered remarks that were billed as providing dramatic information about Iran’s nuclear program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech on files obtained by Israel he says proves Iran lied about its nuclear program, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Speaking in English at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu displayed slides from documents he said Israel recently obtained from a top-secret facility in Tehran detailing Iran’s long-held nuclear ambitions.

“Iran lied,” Netanyahu said. “Big time.”

The trove that Israel’s Mossad unearthed, he added, amounted to a half-ton of material, including “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.”

“We’ve shared this material with the United States and the United States can vouch for its authenticity,” he said.

Trump, in his press availability, told reporters that he did not think the US reneging on the Obama-era agreement hurt American credibility in its negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Critics have said that if the United States doesn’t live by its commitments with Iran, North Korea won’t be able to trust it would do so in another arms control agreement.

“I think it sends the right message,” Trump said. “In seven years, that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons. That’s not acceptable. Seven years is tomorrow. That’s not acceptable.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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