#UNGA73: Israel’s PM Netanyahu accuses Iran of Having a Secret Nuclear Warehouse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Thursday of keeping a “secret atomic warehouse” just outside its capital, despite the 2015 deal with world powers that was meant to keep it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Holding up a poster-board map of an area near Tehran before world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu said Iranian officials were keeping tons of nuclear equipment and material in a warehouse near a rug-cleaning operation. There was no immediate comment from Iran.
Netanyahu’s disclosure — which he presented as a big reveal on the international community’s biggest stage — came four months after Israel announced the existence of what it said was a “half-ton” of Iranian nuclear documents obtained by Israeli intelligence in the Shourabad neighborhood near Tehran. Israel said the cache proved that Iranian leaders covered up their nuclear weapons programbefore signing the nuclear agreement. Iran hasn’t acknowledged the alleged seizure.
“You have to ask yourself a question: Why did Iran keep a secret atomic archive and a secret atomic warehouse?” he asked. “What Iran hides, Israel will find.
The new site Netanyahu identified sits a short distance from Shourabad.
There was no immediate official response from Tehran. Iran’s mission to the U.N. did not respond to a request for comment. Iran’s state-run, English-language Press TV channel carried Netanyahu’s remarks live, but cut away after he made the allegation about the nuclear warehouse.
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal came after years of Western sanctions over the country’s contested atomic program. The West long has feared it could be used to build nuclear bombs. Iran long has denied seeking atomic weapons.
Under terms of the deal, Iran is allowed to keep documents and other research. The deal strictly limits how many centrifuges Iran can use and how large of a low-enriched uranium stockpile the country can keep.
Netanyahu said the warehouse stored “massive amounts of equipment and materiel.” He said Israel shared the information with the U.N. atomic watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment
Netanyahu noted that Israel had long opposed the multinational agreement with Iran. Israel considers Iran its biggest threat, citing Tehran’s calls for Israel’s destruction, its support for hostile militant organizations like the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group and Iran’s development of long-range missiles.
U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the nuclear deal in May, and his administration has been re-imposing sanctions on Iran. Israel applauded Trump’s decision, but many other nations lamented it as jeopardizing what they saw as the best chance for keeping Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed power.
“Instead of coddling Iran’s dictators,” other countries should support the sanctions, Netanyahu said to applause.
Netanyahu’s revelation came shortly after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took Israel and the U.S. to task in his own speech, declaring that his people’s rights “are not up for bargaining” and that the U.S. was undermining the long-discussed two-state solution. But Netanyahu devoted less attention to his country’s long-running conflict with the Palestinians.
Abbas halted ties with Trump’s administration in December after the U.S. recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Palestinians have said a pending U.S. peace plan will be dead on arrival because of that and other recent U.S. moves that Palestinians see as favoring Israel.
“Jerusalem is not for sale,” Abbas said to applause as he began his speech. “The Palestinian people’s rights are not up for bargaining.”
He said Palestinians would never reject negotiation, but that “it’s really ironic that the American administration still talks about what they call the ‘deal of the century.'”
“What is left for this administration to give to the Palestinian people?” he asked. “What is left as a political solution?”
Added Abbas: “We are not redundant. Why are we treated as redundant people who should be gotten rid of?”
The speeches fell on the same day that members of a vast U.N. developing-countries group formalized their decision to give the Palestinians the chairmanship in 2019. Although known as the Group of 77, it promotes the interests of 135 developing nations.
The Palestinians’ upcoming chairmanship stands to boost their aspirations for official statehood but angers Israel.
While meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday, Trump told reporters he believes that two states — Israel and one for the Palestinians — “works best.” He has been vague on the topic, suggesting he would support whatever the parties might agree to, a message he also recapped Wednesday.
“If the Israelis and Palestinians want one state, that’s OK with me. If they want two states, that’s OK with me. I’m happy if they’re happy,” he said.
Hours before Netanyahu’s scheduled speech, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed indifference to Trump’s remarks, saying that the Israeli interest is “a safe Jewish state.”
Watch the full speech below:
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