U.S. Secretary of State backs Israel’s claims about Iran’s ‘secret nuclear weapons programme’
Documents claimed by Israel as proof of Iran’s secret nuclear weapons programme are authentic and the U.S. is assessing the future of the Iran nuclear deal in light of the revelations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said. Mr. Pompeo’s public endorsement of Israel’s position could be prelude to America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal later this month.
President Donald Trump has set May 12 as the deadline to reimpose sanctions suspended under the 2015 nuclear agreement among Iran, the U.S., China, France, Russia, the U.K., and Germany. In October 2017, Mr. Trump had refused to certify that continuing with the Iran deal was “vital to the national security interests of the United States,” as required by a domestic law.
Since then, Mr. Pompeo has become the Secretary of State and John Bolton, the National Security Adviser. Both are strong opponents of the deal, and Israel’s claims strengthen their hand within the administration.
“For many years, the Iranian regime has insisted to the world that its nuclear programme was peaceful. The documents obtained by Israel from inside of Iran show beyond any doubt that the Iranian regime was not telling the truth. I have personally reviewed many of the Iranian files…,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement.
“We are therefore assessing what the discovery of Iran’s secret nuclear files means for the future of the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran deal.
Mr. Pompeo said American non-proliferation and intelligence officials have been analysing tens of thousands of pages and translating them from Farsi. “We assess that the documents we have reviewed are authentic.” Mr. Pompeo added that the deal had whitewashed Iran’s “illicit activities related to its military nuclear programme”.
“Iran had many opportunities over the years to turn over its files to international inspectors from the IAEA and admit its nuclear weapons work. Instead, they lied to the IAEA repeatedly. They also lied about their programme to the six nations who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal. What this means is the deal was not constructed on a foundation of good faith or transparency. It was built on Iran’s lies.”
Mr. Trump, who has all along argued for ending the nuclear agreement, said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Iran’s weapon’s programme proved his point. But the President sought to keep some suspense on the fate of the deal itself. “So we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said during a press conference at the White House on Monday. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing. A lot of people think they know. And on or before May 12, we’ll make a decision.”
French President Immanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angel Merkel had urged the Trump administration to stay with the deal, when they both visited the U.S. capital last week.
With the Netanyahu government leaning on him heavily to scrap the agreement, and his key advisers now inclined towards his own instincts, Mr. Trump may be inching closer to what he always wanted to do. “As the President’s May 12 deadline to fix the Iran deal approaches, I will be consulting with our European allies and other nations on the best way forward in light of what we now know about Iran’s past pursuit of nuclear weapons and its systematic deception of the world,” Mr. Pompeo said.