“Even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear know-how for future use.”
Netanyahu’s presentation revealed information that he said Iran had locked away in a secret vault in Tehran. Israel obtained this information, he said, only a few weeks ago. The Israeli leader said the fact that Iran had “intensified its efforts to hide its secret files” after the JCPOA was signed showed that the republic still intended to pursue nuclear weapons at a future date. This, he said, underscored the danger of “sunset provisions” in the nuclear deal, which lift some restrictions on Iran after a certain time period has elapsed; Iran retains the knowledge to try for a bomb later.
“Iran lied … in 2015 when it didn’t come clean to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] as required by the nuclear deal.”
Netanyahu said the JCPOA required Iran to fully disclose its nuclear activities, though this is not in the text of the deal. Netanyahu asserted that the Islamic Republic had violated the agreement through its pointed denials that it even had a weapons program. This was the most concrete evidence he gave of a violation. Most of his presentation dealt with weapons programs that both U.S. intelligence and international inspectors knew about previously and assessed to now be dormant. But Netanyahu said that some of the same individuals who had worked on Iran’s nuclear-weapons program went on, after the weapons programs formally shut down, to work in dual-use projects disguised as civilian nuclear work, which may be going on to this day. (International monitors say Iran is complying with the agreement.)
“The nuclear deal is based on lies. It is based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception. … 100,000 files right here prove that they lied.”
Netanyahu has long been a critic of the deal—and of Iran. He believes that the regime in Tehran cannot be trusted, and his presentation was intended to persuade his allies in the international community in general, and in Washington, D.C., in particular, of this argument. As Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who is a staunch critic of the JCPOA, said on Twitter: “Simple takeaway from Netanyahu presentation: Iran regime conducted nuclear weaponization activities, lied to the IAEA and to the world & hid 100,000+ documents, videos, photos with the instructions to restart a nuke weapons program at a time of its choosing.”
What Netanyahu did not say about the JCPOA is perhaps as important as what he said about Iran’s actions.
He did not say the nuclear deal was not working.
Even some of the JCPOA’s critics concede that it is, in the short term at least, achieving its stated goal: preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Opponents of the agreement generally say it doesn’t restrict Iran’s other malign activities, pointing, for instance, to its ballistic-missile program and its support for proxies in Syria and Yemen. But the nuclear agreement’s architects say it was never meant to address those issues. Netanyahu called the deal “terrible,” but he made no claim about its efficacy.