A Contest of Competing Timelines: Tehran Says Israel's Netanyahu Lied
May 9, 2018
BBC & Al-Akhbar English
Iran has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "liar" after he accused [Iran] of deceiving the world about its nuclear intentions. Mr. Netanyahu produced what he said were copies of Iranian files detailing a project to build nuclear weapons, which was reportedly mothballed 15 years ago. Iran said it had never sought to build a bomb when it signed an international deal to curb nuclear activity in 2015.
Iran Nuclear Row:
Tehran Says Israel's Netanyahu Lied
(May 7, 2018) -- Iran has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "liar" after he accused [Iran] of deceiving the world about its nuclear intentions.
Mr. Netanyahu produced what he said were copies of Iranian files detailing a project to build nuclear weapons, which was reportedly mothballed 15 years ago.
Iran said it had never sought to build a bomb when it signed an international deal to curb nuclear activity in 2015.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the deal. American allies like the UK and France have called for the agreement to be maintained, arguing that Iran has abided by it, steadily reducing its capacity to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Hostility between Israel and Iran, already bitter enemies, has grown as Iran builds up its military in Syria, on Israel's doorstep.
What Did Iran Say?
Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi described Mr. Netanyahu as an "infamous liar who has had nothing to offer except lies and deceits". His accusations, he continued, were "worn-out, useless and shameful".
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the documents produced by Israel were a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog.
What Is the Thrust of Israel's Case?
Israel says that Iran is not a reliable partner and the 2015 agreement was reached in bad faith.
Speaking after Mr. Netanyahu's presentation of the alleged secret Iranian files, Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador to London, said the Iranian government had deliberately concealed its military nuclear program.
"It appears we've caught them red-handed lying about what is ultimately a crucial element in the deal, one which is a prerequisite for future implementation of that very deal," he said.
Not only did Mr. Netanyahu give alleged details of Project Amad, the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program reportedly mothballed in 2003, but he said the project had continued at the Iranian defence ministry.
He quoted the head of the alleged program as saying "special activities" would continue "under the title of scientific know-how developments." Such work continued this year, Mr. Netanyahu said, without giving evidence.
Israel's Project Amad Timeline
Late 1980s Iran allegedly begins secret nuclear weapons research
1999 The Amad Project is launched, according to Israeli intelligence. In the years that follow, Iranian presidents consistently deny seeking to acquire nuclear weapons
2002 Satellite photos reveal Iranian nuclear sites and Washington accuses Iran of "across-the-board pursuit of weapons of mass destruction"
2003 The IAEA challenges Iran to prove it is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Inspections follow and Amad is wound down, according to the IAEA's 2015 report
2006 UN agrees first round of sanctions on Iran after it fails to demonstrate its burgeoning civilian nuclear program is not weapons-related
2011 The IAEA says Iran has been carrying out research that can only be used to develop a nuclear bomb trigger
2013 Election in Iran of reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, gives boost to talks with world powers on nuclear program
2015 World powers reach deal with Iran on limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for lifting of international economic sanctions
2018 Israel produces what it says is documentary proof of Project Amad's existence 15 years earlier and accuses Iran of continuing "special activities"
How Has the IAEA Reacted?
It pointed out that one of its own reports from 2015 had identified some Iranian activities in 2003 "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".
There had been "no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009", according to that report.
What Does the US Say?
The White House initially responded to Mr. Netanyahu's allegations by saying they were consistent with its understanding that Iran "has" a "robust, clandestine nuclear weapons" program.
However, it later corrected the statement by changing the tense of the verb to "had", blaming a "clerical error".
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the documents proved "beyond any doubt" that Iran had not told the truth.
Donald Trump has asked for permanent restrictions on Iran's uranium enrichment. He has warned the US will abandon the deal on 12 May -- the next deadline for waiving sanctions -- unless European signatories to the deal and Congress address his concerns.
What about Other Key Players?
France said the Israeli findings could "confirm the need for longer-term assurances on the Iranian program".
The evidence appeared to confirm what European powers had known for more than a decade and a half, it added.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Mr. Netanyahu's presentation on Iran's past nuclear weapons research underlined the "importance of keeping the Iran nuclear deal's constraints on Tehran's nuclear ambitions".
"The Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust about Iran's intentions; rather it is based on tough verification," he said.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said the documents had not put into question Iran's compliance with the deal but they should be analyzed by the IAEA.
What Is the 2015 Deal?
The agreement signed between Iran, the US, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain lifted crippling economic sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is committed to slashing the number of its centrifuges, which are machines used to enrich uranium.
It is also meant to cut its stockpile of enriched uranium drastically and not enrich remaining uranium to the level needed to produce nuclear weapons.
Another Timeline of 'The Iran Bomb'
Al-Akhbar English (September 25, 2012)
"[The] introduction of nuclear power will both
provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy
and free remaining oil reserves for export
or conversion to petrochemicals."
-- US National Security Decision Memorandum 292 (1975)
The Shah Years
1957: The US and Iran sign a civil nuclear co-operation agreement under the US Atoms for Peace program.
1960: A small research nuclear reactor is purchased by Iran from the US and it becomes active seven years later.
1968: Iran signs and ratifies the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
1970: Negotiations begin between Iran and the US, France, and West Germany over plans to develop 20 nuclear reactors and possibly aid with a rudimentary nuclear weapons program.
1974: "[One day] sooner than is believe, [Iran would be] in possession of a nuclear bomb." Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi tells a French news agency.
1975-76: The administration of Gerald Ford backs Iran's nuclear plans. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Henry Kissenger lobby in support of this policy.
1978: Iran and US sign on to a nuclear agreement. Iran agrees to safeguards beyond NPT requirements, while the US granted Iran "most favored nation" status for reprocessing nuclear fuel.
Post Revolution Years
1979: The revolution erupts and the unpopular shah is ousted. All ties along the nuclear front between Iran and Western countries are severely downgraded or out-rightly terminated. The new Iranian leadership decides to scrap the nuclear program over religious grounds.
1980: Saddam Hussein's Iraq invades Iran, with support from the Arab Gulf and the Americans, sparking off an eight-year war between the two.
1982: Iran reconsiders its ban on the nuclear program.
1984: British defense magazine Jane's Defense Weekly becomes the first publication in the West to claim that Iran was "engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years." This was followed by US Senator Alan Cranston's announcement that Iran was expected to have nuclear weapons as early as 1991.
1988: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini drafts a letter contemplating a militarized nuclear program. He is influenced by Iraq's use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war.
1992: Benjamin Netanyahu expresses the belief that Iran could develop nuclear weapons within "three to five years" and therefore must be stopped through "an international front headed by the US."
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres reiterates this position but pushes the clock to 1999. "Iran is the greatest threat [to peace] and greatest problem in the Middle East . . . because it seeks the nuclear option while holding a highly dangerous stance of extreme religious militantism," Peres said.
Similarly, US House Republican Research Committee claims that there was a "98 percent certainty that Iran had already had all (or virtually all) of the components required for two or three operational nuclear weapons."
1995: Benjamin Netanyahu declares in his book, Fighting Terrorism, that "the best estimates at this time place Iran between three and five years away from possessing the prerequisites required for the independent production of nuclear weapons."
1996: Israeli Foreign Minister Ehud Barak tells members of the UN Security Council that Iran would be able to produce nuclear weapons within eight years."
1998: Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reported to Congress that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear or a biological payload that could hit the US within five years.
2002: US President George W. Bush places Iran as part of the "axis of evil".
2003: Iran allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit its nuclear facilities for the first time. While accusing Iran of a "pattern of concealment," the IAEA does note that they had found "no evidence" that Iran was attempting to build an atomic bomb.
After IAEA visitations, Iran President Mohammed Khatami says in a speech, "We don't need atomic bombs, and based on our religious teaching, we will not pursue them...but at the same time, we want to be strong, and being strong means having knowledge and technology."
Britain, France, and Germany initiate dialogue with Iran and the Paris Agreement is drafted. Iran agrees to temporary suspend its program pending the progress of negotiations.
2004: Secretary of State Colin Powell declares that there is information that Iran was trying to wed its nuclear program with its missile development project.
2005: The US presents "alleged studies" to support Powell's allegations. IAEA, other international experts, and Iran doubt the authenticity of these documents.
Supreme leader Ali Khamenei issues a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons during a meeting with the IAEA Board of Governors in Geneva.
2006: Iran's suspension of its program ends. In response, the UN Security Council passes first rounds of sanctions, and passes further sanctions between this year and until 2010.
2007: The US National Intelligence Estimate releases its report on Iran. It states with "high confidence" that Iran had given up any nuclear weapons effort in 2003.
2009: Various Israeli political and military officials place the timetable for an Iranian bomb between 2012-2014.
A US Senate Foreign Relations Committee reports states: "There is no sign that Iran's leaders have ordered up a bomb."
2010: Brazil and Turkey broker a deal with Iran in regards to swapping nuclear fuel abroad. West does not support the deal and it collapses.
2010-2011: Iran experiences further economic sanctions, in addition to cyber-attacks and assassination operations of Iranian scientists.
Seymour Hersh, journalist at The New Yorker, notes: "Despite years of covert operations inside Iran, extensive satellite imagery, and the recruitment of many Iranian intelligence assets, the United States and its allies, including Israel, have been unable to find irrefutable evidence of an ongoing hidden nuclear-weapons program in Iran, according to intelligence and diplomatic officials here and abroad."
2011: IAEA under the new leadership of Yukia Amano reverses the agency's position on Iran, suddenly asserting that the Islamic republic had been working on weapons-related activities for years.
Sources for timeline:
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.