Iran mocks PM's 'arts & craft show' at UN
After Netanyahu tells General Assembly that Iran has a second atomic facility, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman says 'world will only laugh loudly' at 'false shows'; Zarif presses for greater scrutiny on Israel's nuclear weapons program, accuses Netanyahu of isolating US.
“The world will only laugh loudly at this type of false, meaningless and unnecessary speech and false shows,” said Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according to Fars News.
Netanyahu made the announcement some four months after he presented what he said was “conclusive proof” of a secret project underway in Iran for the development of nuclear weapons.
“What I’m about to say has not been shown publicly before ... Today I’m revealing the site of a second facility, Iran’s secret atomic warehouse,” he said in his speech, during which he presented satellite and up-close images of what he said was an atomic site situated a short distance from Shourabad.
According to Netanyahu, the site contained some 15kg (33 pounds) of radioactive material that has now been moved as part of Iranian attempts to hide evidence of its nuclear weapons program.
Qassemi said Netanyahu's accusation was "not worth talking about."
"These farcical claims and the show by the prime minister of the occupying regime (Israel) were not unexpected," he added.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that there should be more scrutiny on Israel’s nuclear program and derided the visuals presented by the prime minister—a now common feature of his addresses to the UN.
“No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a ‘secret’ and ‘undeclared’ nuclear weapons program—including an ‘actual atomic arsenal,’” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
“Time for Israel to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons program to international inspectors,” he added.
Zarif also accused Israel of pushing the United States toward isolation, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
“In recent days we’ve seen how much the policies that Netanyahu has imposed on America has isolated them in the General Assembly and Security Council,” Zarif said, according to IRNA.
“Now see when they can pull America to this level of isolation how isolated they are themselves,” he continued.
According to IRNA, Zarif called Netanyahu a "liar who would not stop lying" and dismissed his atomic warehouse claim as an "obscene charge."
Netanyahu did not identify the material nor specifically suggest that Iran had actively violated the nuclear deal which was signed in 2015 under the Obama administration.
US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in May, making way for the reimposition of crippling sanctions that have devastated Iran’s currency and which threaten to ravage its economy.
Shortly after Netanyahu made his speech, a US intelligence official said that the facts were “somewhat misleading.”
According to the US intelligence official, knowledge of the facility is nothing new to the Americans.
“First, we have known about this facility for some time, and it’s full of file cabinets and paper, not aluminum tubes for centrifuges, and second, so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out of the JCPOA any faster than it otherwise could,” the official said.
Another US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States is aware of the facility Netanyahu announced and described it as a “warehouse” used to store “records and archives” from Iran’s nuclear program.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.