Netanyahu Accuses Iran of Maintaining Secret Nuclear Warehouse

UNITED NATIONS -
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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shows a photo of the Iranian warehouse during his speech at the U.N., Thursday. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

The Iranian regime has been storing equipment and materiel from its nuclear-weapons program in a warehouse in Tehran, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed on Thursday, his second revelation in the past year of a secret site related to the alleged program.

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu showed a photograph, along with a street address and satellite coordinates, of the site, which he said “contains as much as 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and materiel.”

Last April, days before U.S. President Donald Trump faced a decision on whether to recertify the Iranian nuclear deal signed by his predecessor Barack Obama – a deal which Netanyahu has vocally opposed – Netanyahu revealed that an Israeli intelligence operation had uncovered what he said was a massive archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear-weapons program – a program that Tehran had denied ever existed.

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Aerial photo of what Israel says are the locations of Iran’s atomic archive and atomic warehouse. (Reuters/GPO/Handout via Reuters)

The deal had sought to curb Iran’s nuclear-weapons program in return for sanctions relief, but critics argued that it provided funds to a malevolent regime while merely postponing, rather than eliminating, nuclear-weapons capabilities.

Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, and has reintroduced crippling sanctions on Iran.

On Thursday, Netanyahu accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of having failed to take any action following those revelations. “Given this inaction, I decided to reveal today something else that we have shared with the IAEA and with a few intelligence agencies,” said the prime minister. “Iran has another secret facility in Tehran – a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.”

Netanyahu said that Iran has been removing the material at the warehouse, located three miles from the archive facility, “in an effort to hide the evidence.”

Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program has been for peaceful purposes, unrelated to weaponry. According to the nuclear deal, the regime was supposed to come clean about its past nuclear activity. While Iran has not been accused of violating the terms of the agreement, Netanyahu argued in April that the archive proved that it hadn’t come clean about its program, and that the agreement had been signed under false pretenses.

In his presentation Thursday, the prime minister said that the regime’s effort to maintain its nuclear materials rather than destroy them belies Iran’s insistence that it has no plans for resumption of a weapons program.

Netanyahu said he believes that IAEA chief Yukiya Amano “is a good man” who “wants to do the right thing.”

“Well Mr. Amano, do the right thing,” said the prime minister. “Go inspect this atomic warehouse, immediately, before the Iranians finish clearing it out.”

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Thursday. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

The nuclear deal’s supporters had insisted that under the deal, inspections could be conducted in Iran, “anytime, anywhere,” said Netanyahu. “Well how about inspections right here, right now?”

“Once and for all, tell the world the truth about Iran.”

Addressing the “tyrants of Tehran,” the Israeli prime minister warned: “Israel knows what you’re doing, and Israel knows where you’re doing it. Israel will never let a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons. Not now, not in ten years, not ever.”

Iran’s threat to Israel extends beyond its nuclear program, said Netanyahu. Iran has used the money from sanctions relief “to fuel its vast war machine” in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere across the Middle East and around the world. “Some peace, some moderation,” remarked Netanyahu wryly.

The Israeli leader expressed thanks for the friendship and support of the Trump administration, particularly noting U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s strong defense of Israel at the United Nations, and President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal.

But “while the United States is confronting Iran with new sanctions, Europe and others are appeasing Iran by trying to help it bypass those sanctions,” Netanyahu accused.

“Have these European leaders learned nothing from history? Will they ever wake up?”

“Instead of coddling Iran’s dictators, join the US, and Israel, and most of the Arab world in supporting new sanctions against a regime that endangers all of us and all of the world.”

Netanyahu also revealed the location of what he said were three secret sites near Beirut civilian centers where Iran-backed Hezbollah is developing precision-guided missiles. “Hezbollah is deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields,” he said.

He also accused supporters of the nuclear accord of grossly miscalculating the effects of sanctions.

“Just as the nuclear-deal supporters were wrong about what would happen when sanctions would be removed,” said Netanyahu, “they were dead wrong about what would happen when sanctions would be restored. They argued that U.S. sanctions alone would have little economic impact on Iran,” which has recently been suffering from a major economic crisis.

“They also argued that restoring sanctions would rally the Iranian people around the regime. Well they’re definitely rallying, but not around the regime. They’re rallying against the regime.”

“In these protests, the Iranian people are showing unbelievable courage.”

But even the staunchest opponent of the Iran nuclear deal admits to at least one positive consequence: “By empowering Iran, it brought Israel and many Arab states closer together than ever before, closer together than ever before, in an intimacy and friendship that I’ve not seen in my lifetime and would have been unimaginable a few years ago,” said Netanyahu.

“Israel deeply values these new friendships, and I hope the day will soon arrive when Israel will be able to expand peace, a formal peace, beyond Egypt and Jordan to other Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. I look forward to working with President Trump and his peace team to achieve that goal.”

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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shows the locations of what he said are Hezbollah missile-development sites near civilian centers in Beirut. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the General Assembly, decrying Israel’s recently passed Nation-State Law, saying the law discriminates against other Arabs and non-Jews in Israel and would “inevitably lead to the creation of one racist state, an apartheid state.”

He also said recent acts by the Trump administration showing favoritism toward Israel means that the U.S. can no longer be the single mediator of a Middle East peace process.

The PA president insisted that his people aim to achieve their goals peacefully.

“Despite all the injustice from the world, we will never resort to violence and terrorism,” said Abbas. “We will never accept aggression against any country whether that country denies us or recognizes us, loves us or dislikes us.”

Abbas criticized those who refer to what he called Palestinian “martyrs” as “criminals.”

“I pay tribute to our hero martyrs and prisoners of war,” said the Palestinian Authority leader.

In his speech, Netanyahu that Abbas “should know better” than to call Israel “racist” and “apartheid.”

“You wrote a dissertation denying the Holocaust. Your Palestinian Authority imposes death sentences on Palestinians for selling land to Jews … President Abbas, you proudly pay Palestinian terrorists who murder Jews. In fact, the more they slay, the more you pay .. And you condemn Israel’s morality? You call Israel racist?

“This is not the way to peace.”

The Israeli prime minister said that his country is proudly both Jewish and democratic.

“Israel is a vibrant democracy, where all its citizens – Jews and non-Jews alike – enjoy equal individual rights, and these rights are guaranteed by law.

“In Israel, whether you are a Jew or an Arab, a Christian or a Muslim, a Druze or a Bedouin, or anything else, your individual rights are exactly the same, and they will always remain the same. In the Middle East, that’s not obvious.”

“In the Middle East … Israel stands out as a shining example of freedom and progress.”