US says Bibi’s presentation proves Iran had ‘robust’ nuke program, Tehran calls it ‘childish’

The White House has claimed documents released by Israel show that Iran had a “robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program,” an allegation dismissed as both “ridiculous and childish” by Tehran.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of “lying” about its nuclear research program. Citing evidence from a trove of  files that the Israeli intelligence allegedly managed to obtain from Tehran’s nuclear research archive, the Israeli PM claimed Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program when it brokered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the international community.

READ MORE: Up to IAEA to decide if Iran lied & violated nuclear deal – world reacts to Netanyahu’s claims

The Iranian government ridiculed the Israeli PM’s performance which, it claimed, was a spectacle aimed at just one man. "Netanyahu's show was a childish and ridiculous game ... The planned show ahead of May 12 deadline is to affect Trump's decision on Iran's nuclear deal," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Sayed Jafar Ghanadbashi said, as cited by Reuters.

The Trump White House, which has long sought to amend or scrap the nuclear deal with Tehran, wasted no time in welcoming Netanyahu’s “revelations,” and was among the first to react to the explosive report delivered via a combination of MS Paint and Powerpoint.

“This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” the White House said in a statement. “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”

While the White House promised to “carefully” examine the information, President Donald Trump already used the opportunity to state that the Israeli presentation proves that he was absolutely correct in his own assessment of Iran’s nuclear threat.

READ MORE: Netanyahu shows slides, shelves of docs claiming Iran has nuclear weapons program

“I think if anything what’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while… has really shown that I’m 100 percent right” about the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump said at a joint press conference with his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari. Once again criticizing the deal, Trump warned that Tehran might soon have the capabilities to produce nuclear warheads.

“In seven years, that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons. That is not acceptable. Seven years is tomorrow, that’s not acceptable,” he noted.

Trump previously slammed the internationally-backed agreement as “the worst deal ever” and threatened to pull the US out of it. The White House has until May 12 to extend sanctions waivers against Tehran. “We'll see what happens,” Trump said on Monday.

Newly-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meanwhile reasserted Washington’s commitment to “fix” the Iranian deal, noting that, while Tehran’s research program was “known” to the US, Israeli revelations offer “thousands” of new and “authentic” documents and information on the matter.

"This will, I think, spell out the scope and scale of the program that they undertook there, and I think that it makes clear that at the very least the Iranians have continued to lie to their own people," Pompeo told reporters. 

Interestingly, Netanyahu neglected to reference international suspicions that Israel itself has assembled a clandestine arsenal of nuclear warheads using technology provided by allies or stolen from rivals.

Netanyahu is also far more abrasive in his approach to, and rhetoric on, Iran than his predecessor Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu foreshadowed Trump's stance when giving an address to the UN, describing the nuclear agreement as "a very bad deal." Olmert, on the other hand, called for his successor to work with US rather than resist any accord, Haaretz reported previously.

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