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Israel: Documents show Iran was on the brink of launching nuclear weapons

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making a presentation about Iran. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu/YouTube)
July 18, 2018

Earlier this year, Israeli spies stole Iranian documents exposing nuclear weapons designs. Recent revelations show how far Iran’s nuclear progress was 15 years ago.

Iran’s secretive nuclear efforts included significant uranium research, nuclear warhead designs, and advanced testing of processes and equipment to initiate nuclear chain reactions, according to The Washington Post.

The nuclear research program was halted in 2003, but documents show plans for continued work on several secret projects to be masked by military research programs.

In one of the documents, an Iranian scientist said: “The work would be divided in two: covert (secret structure and goals) and overt.”

The collection included photos of a nuclear detonation test chamber, along with documents showing radiation measurements from the chamber.

Approximately 100,000 documents were seized in an Israeli raid on a Tehran storage facility.

The documents did not contain information on recent nuclear activity or proof of violating the 2015 nuclear deal made by then-President Barack Obama and five other nations.

Iran’s nuclear activity in 2003 and earlier was well-known by the U.S., and the reason for spurring the nuclear deal in the first place. The deal restricted Iran’s uranium production and required staunch oversight of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referenced the documents in recent criticisms of Iran.

Israeli officials called the Iran nuclear deal inadequate for quelling Iran’s long-term nuclear goals.

The deal has been in question since President Trump withdrew from the agreement in May. Iran claims it will continue to honor the agreement and does not plan on resuming nuclear weapons operations.

A senior Israeli official anonymously told U.S. journalists: “This archive explains why we have doubts.”

“It explains why the [nuclear deal] to us is worse than nothing, because it leaves key parts of the nuclear program unaddressed,” the official said. “It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Israeli experts have been conducting reviews of the documents and sharing their findings with the U.S, along with intelligence and energy agencies responsible for Iranian oversight. Israeli officials say the documents’ findings of Iran’s advance nuclear weapons activities demonstrate their untrustworthiness.

Some experts questioned why Iran would store such a wealth of documents on their nuclear capabilities, suggesting Iran may have retained the information to relaunch their nuclear program in the future.

Iran denied ownership of the documents and accused Israel of forgery. However, Israeli officials permitted journalists to see and touch the documents, and provided copies to verify their authenticity.

The documents were obtained from a secret storage location in Tehran during a Jan. 31 raid. Israeli operatives extracted paper documents, photos and computer files from 32 safes in a six-and-a-half-hour window.