The allegations about Iran’s nuclear program made by the Israeli prime minister during his televised address from Tel Aviv might, in fact, be an argument in favor of the 2015 nuclear accord and not against it, officials from several countries said, reacting to Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation.
“It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program,” Steffen Seibert, the spokesman of the German government, told journalists, commenting on the Israeli prime minister’s speech. “It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015, including the implementation of an unprecedented, thorough and robust surveillance system by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Germany’s position was partly echoed by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who also said in a statement that “the deal was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties, otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.” She further noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for verifying Iran’s compliance with the deal.
Mogherini also said that the IAEA, which is “the only impartial, international organization that is in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear commitments,” has previously published 10 reports certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments. She then added that one has to wait for the IAEA assessment of Tel Aviv’s claims before making any conclusions on the matter.
At the same time, the EU foreign policy chief noted that she found no evidence of Iran’s non-compliance with the deal in Netanyahu’s arguments so far. A similar assessment of the Israeli prime minister’s presentation was given by Eran Etzion, the former Israeli deputy national security adviser, who now heads the Israeli-European think tank called the Forum of Strategic Dialogue. “No 'smoking gun' was revealed this evening, nor was it proven that Iran is today developing nuclear weaponry or violating the [nuclear deal] in any other way,” he said in a Twitter post.
The UK, in its turn, stated that it had “never been naive about Iran and its nuclear intentions,” but emphasized that the existing framework “remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal and that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”
“That is why the IAEA inspection regime agreed as part of the Iran nuclear deal is one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords,” a British government spokesman said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, went as far as to say that the claims made by Netanyahu were actually a “very convincing argument” in favor of keeping the deal and not scrapping it. “In an arms control agreement, you always foresee that the other side will try to cheat. The monitoring mechanism is to make it difficult or ideally impossible,” he said in a series of tweets on the issue, adding that “the quite extensive monitoring system of the Iran deal is precisely to check facts.”
Earlier, the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement that Netanyahu discussed the issue with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin later confirmed this fact, adding that the Russian leader still maintained that the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), is still of “paramount importance for the international peace and security” and should be “strictly observed” by all parties.
US President Donald Trump, who was apparently a major addressee of Netanyahu’s speech, gave a much more vague response to the Israeli prime minister’s claims. “That is just not an acceptable situation,” he said, referring to the Netanyahu’s claims about Iran’s alleged aspirations to create a nuclear weapon. He also accused Tehran of “not sitting back idly" and said that “what we've learned has really shown that I have been 100 percent right.”
At the same time, he stopped short of saying whether he intends to abandon the deal. “So we'll see what happens,” he said, referring to his plans. “I'm not telling you what I'm doing. [A lot] of people think they know. And on or before the 12th, we'll make a decision,” the US president added.
In his Monday speech accompanied by a presentation involving a video and big-screen slides, Netanyahu claimed that Iran lied about its nuclear program and was actually trying to create a nuclear bomb. After the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran “continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge” for future use, he added, citing intelligence allegedly obtained by the Israeli security services.
The Israeli prime minister’s statements come as Trump is expected to take a decision on whether to renew a waiver on sanctions against Iran. If he does not do it, that would effectively mean the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. The deadline for this decision expires on May 12.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif already slammed Netanyahu’s presentation, as he called it a “coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf” just before the deadline date.
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