Trump praises Netanyahu’s speech claiming Iran is breaching the nuclear agreement

Mr Netanyahu says his government has acquired documents that show Iran has not stopped enriching uranium

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 30 April 2018 20:50 BST
Israeli PM Netanyahu allegedly reveals Iranian cheating over nuclear arms deal

President Donald Trump has praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for coming forward with documents that the Israeli leader says shows Iran lied about pursuing nuclear weapons.

During a press conference at the White House, Mr Trump once again expressed dissatisfaction with the Iran nuclear agreement, but stopped short of saying that he plans on pulling the US from the deal when the May 12 deadline for a decision comes.

Mr Trump said that Mr Netanyahu’s claims about Iran show that he has been “100 per cent right” about the nuclear agreement, and said that Iran’s behaviour is “just not an acceptable situation”.

The US president’s comments came shortly after Mr Netanyahu gave a televised prime time address to disclose that his government had been able to obtain 55,000 pages of Iranian documents that he said shows Iran is still working on its nuclear enrichment capabilities.

Large parts of that speech were given in English, clearly showing that it was intended for a larger international audience — including Mr Trump, who he reportedly spoke with over the weekend.

“Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons,” Mr Netanyahu said of the documents, which he claimed were being kept in “massive safes”.

“Tonight, I’m here to tell you one thing: Iran lied,” he continued.

Mr Netanyahu claimed that the documents his government obtained showed that Iran intensified its nuclear enrichment operations after the Iran deal was signed in 2015, but did so in a more secretive manner.

While Mr Trump appeared to agree with the general findings of Mr Netanyahu's government, some in the intelligence community say that it does not look like the Israeli leader found a "smoking gun" that showed Iran is violating the terms of the nuclear agreement.

"Netanyahu is telling us something we already knew — that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme," Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said on Twitter.

A senior European diplomat likewise told Reuters that the claims coming from Israel are nothing new.

"We knew all of this and what especially stands out is that Netanyhu doesn't speak of any recorded violations of the (2015 Iran deal)," that diplomat told the news service.

Israel has never admitted publicly that it owns nuclear weapons, though it is widely believed that the country does possess the weapons of mass destruction. That belief has been refuted by several successive governments.

Donald Trump: Iranians no longer chant 'death to America'

The claims from Mr Netanyahu, a hawk, came in the week after the leaders of both France and Germany met with Mr Trump to urge him to stay in the Iranian nuclear deal. French President Emmanuel Macron visited Washington last week for the first state dinner of Mr Trump’s presidency, and told the American during that time that he would be open to building upon the Iran deal to improve it.

He was followed later in the week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met with Mr Trump for what was described as a “working meeting” between the two world leaders.

Mr Netanyahu has always been wary of the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by the Obama administration.

During a visit to Washington in 2015, for instance, he told a joint session of Congress that it “is a bad deal — a very bad deal.” He continued to say that “we’re better off without it”.

Iranian officials have mocked Mr Netanyahu following his speech, with the country’s foreign minister tweeting a photo that showed Mr Netanyahu giving an anti-Iran speech in 2012 to the United Nations while using a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb. Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons.

Mr Netanyahu finished his speech by urging Mr Trump to pull out of the deal.

“In a few days President Trump will make a decision on the Iran nuclear deal,” he said. “I am sure he will do the right thing for the United States, the right thing for Israel and the right thing for the world.”

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