The State Department Thursday night called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate allegations made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly earlier Thursday. In a statement quoted by Reuters, a State Department official said that it was “absolutely imperative that the IAEA fully exercise its authorities in order to provide confidence to the international community that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.”
Iran itself denied the allegations that it had lied about ending its nuclear weapon development program, and that it had established a second, secret nuclear development facility in Tehran. “The world will only laugh loudly at this type of false, meaningless and unnecessary speech and false shows,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said to Iran’s Fars news agency. In a social media post, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that “No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons program – including an *actual atomic arsenal*. Time for Israel to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons program to international inspectors.”
In his speech, Netanyahu said that he was “disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran, a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran’s secret nuclear program.” Last year, Israel obtained and publicized thousands of documents about the program, forcing Iran to revamp it. “Since we raided the atomic archive, they’ve been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse. Just last month they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it? They took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence,” Netanyahu said, displaying a map that showed what he said was the exact location of the site.
“I also have a message today for the tyrants of Tehran. Israel knows what you’re doing and Israel 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,” Netanyahu said. “And Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever, and wherever. We must act to defend our state and to defend our people.”
Netanyahu also discussed Iran’s activities in Lebanon. “In Lebanon, Iran is directing Hezbollah to build secret sites to convert inaccurate projectiles into precision-guided missiles. Missiles that can target deep inside Israel within an accuracy of ten meters. So I have a message for Hezbollah today: Israel knows, Israel also knows what you’re doing. Israel knows where you’re doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it.”
Reaction in Israel to the speech fell along political lines, as would be expected. Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett called the speech “excellent,” with the Prime Minister “displaying the evil of the policy of appeasement of Iran, and the hypocrisy of international organizations against Israel.” Housing Minister Yoav Galant said that Netanyahu “held up a mirror to the world and revealed the Iranian terror machine that never stops working even as Iranian leader Rouhani tries to cover the eyes of the world.” Depurty Minister and Kulanu MK Michael Oren said “like Daniel in the lion’s den, Netanyahu walked into the U.N. building and fought for the truth. The truth is that Iran is murderous, the truth is that the Iranian deal is ruinous. Israel has to defend its truth and pursue peace.”
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that Netanyahu’s speech was “eloquent but arrogant speech to a half-empty auditorium, with all the applause coming from the Israeli section. This speech was aimed at Israel. America is busy with congressional crises. Netanyahu uses too many secret documents and materials in these speeches. We have paid a price for this, and we will in the future.”