Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stunning presentation of damning evidence against the Iranian regime yesterday appears to officially prove what we've known all along: The anti-American, rogue, terrorist-supporting regime in Iran cannot be trusted. Netanyahu's methodical powerpoint-aided indictment of Tehran's treachery and mendacity wasn't stunning because of its allegations; it was stunning because of how he was able to prove those allegations. Israeli spies apparently managed to steal tens of thousands of physical Iranian nuclear documents and digital files (the originals), and deliver them to an undisclosed location -- "a very safe place," according to Netanyahu, presumably meaning somewhere inside Israel. That, unto itself, is an unbelievable feat of spy craft and an astonishing intelligence coup:
BREAKING: Netanyahu: 2017 Iran moved nuke secret weapons files to Shorabad district secret location. Weeks ago Israeli mossad found half ton material inside these walls. 55,000 pages in 183 safes.— Yonah Jeremy Bob (@jeremybob1) April 30, 2018
So the only story I'm interested in now is how the Israelis got those files. A staggering intelligence operation.— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) April 30, 2018
If you haven't already, I strongly urge you to watch 'Bibi's' calm, detailed explanation of what the pilfered documents definitively prove -- including his comment that US intelligence has authenticated the files, which the Israeli government will share with the international community. He laid it all out clearly and succinctly, and you really should see it for yourself:
One of the very first things that came to mind as I watched this video was how catastrophically Iran's nuclear program has evidently been penetrated by the Mossad, Israel's famed foreign intelligence agency. If Israel was able to obtain and exfiltrate Iran's original nuclear files, there is zero chance they could have pulled off a job of that magnitude without significant help on the inside. Perhaps those Iranian officials who collaborated with the Mossad have already been whisked to safety. Perhaps they remain embedded somewhere inside the upper echelons of Iran's government. Or maybe the most vulnerable have been spirited away, with others remaining in place to carry out additional operations. Regardless, the resulting mole hunt will be frantic and ruthless -- and all the while, panicked leaders in Tehran will constantly be wondering what else the Israelis have access to. That internal paranoia and suspicion could further destabilize an already-destabilized regime. Two of the immediate reactions from western defenders of the Iran deal were (1) that Netanyahu's talk didn't point to any material violations of the agreement's terms, post-implementation, and (2) of course Iran has been dishonest, which was why an international pact to disrupt their nuclear march forward was essential in the first place.
On the first point, we don't know what else Israel already has in its possession, or is working toward securing. It does stand to reason that if the government in Jerusalem had concrete evidence of incontrovertible cheating, Netanyahu would have announced it. But one of the nuclear deal's fatal flaws is that it returned many billions of dollars to the regime up front, guaranteeing that western-imposed restrictions will automatically within a little over a decade, contingent on...nothing. Even President Obama admitted that the agreement risks turning Iran into a threshold nuclear-armed state just as soon as those temporary requirements disappear. Then there's this revelation:
This is the crucial claim pic.twitter.com/R5HMvIuzdR— Bruno Maçães (@MacaesBruno) April 30, 2018
The very same man who is documented as having led Iran's secret nuclear weapons program up to 2003 remains in charge of its covert nuclear program today. In addition, Netanyahu rightly points out the significance of the Iranian government maintaining scrupulous records of a clandestine nuclear weapons program -- the existence of which they've adamantly denied. The regime could very well be biding its time, building up its advanced enrichment capabilities (allowed under the deal), and becoming increasingly aggressive in developing missile-based delivery and other banned systems, while the terms of the agreement are active. Then as soon as the moment arrives to flip the proverbial switch back on, they'd have a trove of assiduously catalogued know-how developed over many years sitting at their fingertips, in order to re-engage a strategically dormant illicit project. “Iran is secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “Why would a terrorist regime hide, and meticulously catalog it secret nuclear files, if not to use them at a later date?” Precisely.
The second point is also strikingly weak. "Well obviously our negotiating partners have always been inveterate liars, but we must now trust them to live up to the letter and spirit of our agreement" is a terrible argument. Indeed, even a number of international leaders have long since conceded that Tehran is already discarding 'the spirit' of the agreement. Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world, yet we've showered them with hundreds of billions of dollars in exchange for their (only partially-verifiable) assurances that they're complying with their obligations -- not to mention the $400 million in cash flown directly to Iran by the Obama administration, about which the administration lied. Tehran's supposed, newfound credibility and good faith is not some small matter here; it's a centerpiece of the agreement being worth anything at all. Plus, crucially, a prerequisite for the deal was the regime finally coming totally clean to the IAEA about the true nature of its nuclear program. As Netanyahu explained, backed up by quotes and video clips, Iran's 2015 attestations on this front have now been shown to be categorically false. This is smoking-gun proof of deliberate lies and bad faith -- which, if proven at the time, would have blown up the whole process on the launch pad under a specific provision within the accord's requirements. More broadly, it demonstrates that Iran's leaders were willing to lie through their teeth to secure a deal that's slanted heavily in their favor. They told the West what it wanted to hear, and many Western leaders chose to suspend disbelief and accept those bogus assurances. This new evidence again highlights the foolishness and naivety of that decision.
So where does all of that leave us now? Consider the context: The latest deadline for President Trump to renew or pull out of the Iran deal is arriving in less than two weeks. He famously detests the agreement, and this week's developments may give him the final justification he needs to finally jettison it (which he wouldn't have the power to do by himself if Obama had gone through the process of treaty ratification, rather than unilateral decree). Meanwhile, Israel appears to have just bombed Iran-funded underground missile facilities in Syria -- and may have killed Iranian military personnel on the ground there, as well. The threat of a nuclearized Iran is a very serious one for Americans, but it's an immediately existential one for Israelis. No wonder they're doing everything in their power to thwart that eventuality. Finally, the Iranians are making noises about wanting to cancel the nuclear pact anyway, while trolling Netanyahu as the boy who cried wolf:
#BREAKING: Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, says "The Iran nuclear deal is no longer sustainable for Iran in its present form, without regard to a US exit." (@dpa quoting ISNA news agency)— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) April 30, 2018
BREAKING: The boy who can't stop crying wolf is at it again. Undeterred by cartoon fiasco at UNGA. You can only fool some of the people so many times. pic.twitter.com/W7saODfZDK— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 30, 2018
Zarif is a liar, and his government's own documents -- exposed by Israel -- confirm it. He, on behalf of his evil regime, is the wolf, and Netanyahu has seen that reality quite clearly all along.