Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had obtained troves of documentation proving that Iran had never given up its nuclear ambitions.

Israel's prime minister on Monday unveiled what he said was a
Israel's prime minister on Monday unveiled what he said was a "half ton" of Iranian nuclear documents collected by Israeli intelligence. (Reuters)

Israel's prime minister on Monday unveiled what he said was a "half ton" of Iranian nuclear documents collected by Israeli intelligence, claiming the trove of information proved that Iranian leaders covered up a nuclear weapons program before signing a deal with the international community in 2015.

In a speech delivered in English and relying on his trademark use of visual aids, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the material showed that Iran cannot be trusted, and encouraged President Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal next month.

"Iran lied big time," Netanyahu declared.

Netanyahu's presentation, delivered on live TV from Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, was his latest attempt to sway international opinion on the nuclear deal. The agreement offered Iran relief from crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Netanyahu furiously fought the deal while president Barack Obama was negotiating it, and he has been a leading critic since it was signed. He says it does not provide sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from reaching a nuclear weapons capability.

Netanyahu has found a welcome partner in Trump, who has called the agreement "the worst deal ever."

Trump has signalled he will pull out of the agreement by May 12, unless it is revised, but he faces intense pressure from European allies not to do so. Netanyahu said he would share the newly uncovered information with Western allies and the international nuclear agency.

No immediate response

There was no immediate response from Iran, which has adamantly denied ever seeking nuclear weapons. Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the hard-line Revolutionary Guard, dismissed Netanyahu's speech as a "propaganda show."

Netanyahu said Israel had obtained some 55,000 pages of documents and 183 CDs of secret information from an Iranian nuclear weapons program called "Project Amad." He said the material was gathered from a vaulted Iranian facility a few weeks ago "in a great intelligence achievement."

He began his presentation with a series of video clips of Iranian leaders saying their country never pursued nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu provided no direct evidence that Iran has violated the 2015 deal. Also, the deal is not believed to have banned Iran from keeping its old records.

But Netanyahu said the existence of the documents proves that Iran is waiting to resume its race to build a bomb.

"We can now prove that project Amad was a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons," he said. "We can also prove that Iran is secretly storing project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons."

TRT World 's Kate Fisher reports from Washington, DC.

Trump has set a May 12, deadline to decide whether to pull out of the Iran deal‚ something he appears likely to do despite heavy pressure to stay in from European allies and other parties.

Both Trump and Netanyahu say the deal should address Iranian support for militants across the region and Iran's development of long-range ballistic missiles, as well as eliminate provisions that expire over the next decade.

Reaction

US President Donald Trump praised Netanyahu's presentation, saying that it and other recent events had shown that Trump had been "100 percent right" about Iran.

Trump said he watched part of Netanyahu's presentation and that it was "good." 

He said Iran's behavior was "just not an acceptable situation." He pointed to missile tests, saying Iran is "not sitting back idly."

Trump has declined to say whether he will withdraw the US from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Reacting to the presentation by Netanyahu, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said Netanyahu is "famous for ridiculous shows." 

The semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, dismissed Netanyahu's speech as a "propaganda show."

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies