by Will Racke
Documents obtained by Israel prove that Iran never intended to halt its development of nuclear weapons even as it was negotiating a deal with the U.S. and other world powers to do just that, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.
“For many years, the Iranian regime has insisted to the world that its nuclear program was peaceful,” Pompeo said in a statement Monday. “The documents obtained by Israel from inside of Iran show beyond any doubt that the Iranian regime was not telling the truth.”
Pompeo was referring to a trove of documents obtained by Israeli intelligence relating to Project Amad, an Iranian program in operation between 1999 and 2003 that sought to build and test nuclear weapons.
Tehran has long insisted that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes only, but the files obtained by Israel show “new and conclusive proof of the secret nuclear weapons program that Iran has been hiding for years from the international community in its secret atomic archive,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on Monday.
Pompeo’s endorsement of Israel’s claims comes ahead of a May 12 deadline for President Donald Trump to decide if he will continue to suspend sanctions against Tehran, or resume the penalties in place before the 2015 nuclear deal. Trump has signaled that he will re-impose sanctions, a move that Pompeo, a leading Iran hawk in the administration, has also endorsed.
The U.S. has reviewed most of the nuclear files obtained by Israel and found them to be “authentic,” Pompeo said Monday. He also echoed Netanyahu’s claims that the documents contain previously unknown information about the extent of Tehran’s nuclear program, but did not specify any new details not already known to U.S. intelligence.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to figure out precisely the scope and scale of it,” Pompeo told reporters. “But it is the case — there is new information about that program.”
Arms control experts are disputing that claim, however. Netanyahu’s presentation was a “dog and pony show” that revealed “literally nothing new” about Iran’s nuclear program, Jeffrey Lewis, a former U.S. defense official and current professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, wrote Monday.
The Trump administration’s desire to scrap or revise the nuclear deal has put it in a tough spot with European allies who signed the agreement along with the Obama administration. Britain, France and Germany have all urged Trump to keep the deal in place, citing reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is fulfilling its responsibilities under the agreement.
Washington will continue working closely with European partners to toughen up the deal’s restrictions on Iran, even if Trump decides to resume sanctions, Pompeo said.
“We share the same end goal to keep the Iranians from ever having a nuclear weapon,” he said. “I am confident that we will continue to have good relations with our European partners should the President choose to pull out of this. This will be one issue among many of the important, critical issues that we all work on together.”
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