Israel plans to share recently obtained intelligence on covert Iranian nuclear activity, as well as on its efforts to arm its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, with several countries worldwide in an effort to drive them to act against the Islamic republic.
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Iran was maintaining a secret warehouse holding nuclear-related material, in violation of the 2015 deal with world powers.
He further lambasted Iran for its involvement in the Syrian civil war and its attempt to establish permanent military bases there from which to attack Israel, as well as for its funding and arming of Hezbollah, presenting world leaders with evidence that the latter was using Iranian funding to build weapon production facilities in the heart of Lebanese capital, including near Beirut’s international airport.
Israel Hayom learned on Saturday that Israel will first and foremost share the information with the other signatories to the 2015 accord, namely Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
This means to show them that while they insist on backing the deal and look for ways to circumvent the issues that arose in the wake of the U.S.’s decision to withdraw from the deal in May, Iran continues to deceive them and the United Nations by secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.
Israeli intelligence has found that the facility, disguised as a carpet manufacturing plant, housed hardware and software directly connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
Western diplomats said on Saturday that while this information had to be brought to the IAEA’s attention, it did not constitute a “smoking gun” proving that Iran was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Backed into a corner on the issue
The decision to reveal the information at the U.N. General Assembly was made after the data was carefully scrutinized by the Israel Defense Forces and the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, to ensure making it public would not compromise sensitive sources.
A senior political source said that Netanyahu sought to have his U.N. address incriminate Iran “across the board,” which led to the decision to include the intelligence pertaining to Hezbollah’s weapon-production efforts.
Israeli military intelligence has been closely monitoring the Shiite terrorist group’s efforts for the past year, and has already shared it with several Western intelligence agencies, he said.
Iranian officials dismissed Netanyahu’s claims at the United Nations, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denouncing the allegations as an “obscene charge” and calling the Israeli prime minister “liar who would not stop lying.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that “the world will only laugh loudly at this type of false, meaningless and unnecessary speech and false shows.”
In Lebanon, where Hezbollah sits in the government and wields considerable political power, the allegations against Hezbollah prompted a heated public and media debate.
The fact that one of the Hezbollah sites is located near Beirut’s international airport prompted harsh criticism at the group for jeopardizing the country’s tourism industry, which is one of its main sources of revenue.
The Israeli official said that as the Lebanese government it mostly powerless against the Shi’ite terrorist group, and it is unlikely that any Western nations would attempt to curb its activities, the Israeli policy of thwarting any Iranian attempt to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah will remain in place.
A source in Netanyahu’s entourage to the U.N. General Assembly said that Thursday’s speech has unsettled the Iranians, who have been backed into a corner on the issue.
Another source said Netanyahu himself stressed that he would not have gone forward with the revelations without the support of the Israeli intelligence community.
Describing the speech as a “call for action,” Netanyahu also noted that the fact that Iranian officials “criticized the addressed, they didn’t deny [the allegations], which says everything.”