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Israel's Netanyahu invites world powers to examine secret Iran nuclear files

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents material on Iranian nuclear weapons development during a press conference in in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 30, 2018.
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner
Intelligence sources say intelligence obtained in February, presented to US President Donald Trump in March

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that teams from France, Britain, and Germany will arrive in Israel this weekend to examine hundreds of thousands of top-secret files obtained by his country pertaining to an alleged secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Netanyahu on Monday unveiled glimpses of what he said was "55,000 pages and 55,000 files" from a secret nuclear archive kept by Iran in a dilapidated Tehran warehouse.

He said on Sunday that he also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to view the materials, as well as China and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Netanayhu said France, Britain, and Germany "expressed much interest" in the materials and are "sending delegations of experts to Israel over the weekend."

“We have turned many question marks into exclamation points,” Netanyahu said of the trove of top-secret documents. “Israel obtained a lot of new information on the nuclear deal.”

i24NEWS understands that British officials have accepted the Israeli invitation and will dispatch a team, although the Foreign Office did not respond to a request for details about the delegation. 

In an elaborate televised presentation on Monday, Netanyahu stood in front of a bookcase laden with binders he said held copies of original documents and CDs that he said offered “conclusive proof” of an Iranian nuclear weapons plan that could be activated at any time.

Netanyahu claims the files show that 2015 nuclear deal signed by Tehran and world powers was "based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception."

The French and British foreign ministries have thrown doubt on whether the cache has unearthed anything not previously known about Iran's nuclear program, and said it underscores the need to stick with the nuclear accord.

The UN's nuclear watchdog reiterated it had "no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009", citing its assessments from 2015.

Netanyahu's presentation was conspicuously timed just over a week ahead of the May 12 deadline by which US President Donald Trump must decide on Washington's continued participation in the accord.

But Netanayhu emphasized on Tuesday that Trump's decision "is his, and only his" to make.

"He is a leader who knows how to make decisions, and this is what he will do," Netanyahu said.

Jack GUEZ  (AFP)

'Unparalleled intelligence'

Diplomatic sources told i24NEWS that Israel obtained intelligence pertaining to the existence of the trove of files in February.

Netanyahu showed the information obtained by Israel was to US President Donald Trump during a meeting at the Oval Office in March and it was passed on to intelligence officials for analysis, the sources said.

The United States was aware of Netanyahu's plan to hold a press conference on the matter ahead of time, the sources noted. Russia, meanwhile, was only made aware of Netanyahu's intentions on Monday.

"We obtained a massive amount of information, unparalleled to anything in the past both in scope and variety," an intelligence source told i24NEWS.

The source described the files as containing "a lot of new information on Iran's nuclear plans and ambitions."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the authenticity of the files on Monday, and said that much of the information contained in them was "new" to American experts.

Describing the operation to obtain the files as one of the “greatest achievements” of Israeli intelligence ever, Netanyahu said that the 55,000 pages and 55,000 files on 183 CDs retrieved by Israel contain "incriminating" documents, charts, blueprints, photographs, and videos that prove Iran had been pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Supporters of the Iran nuclear deal have argued that Netanyahu's intelligence release deals simply with a historic Iranian program and does not prove they are in breach of the 2015 accord.

Netanyahu's presentation did not provide evidence that Israel's main enemy had actively worked to obtain an atomic weapon since the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six world powers.

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