Netanyahu Pushes “Fake News” to Give Trump an Excuse for War

May 2nd, 2018 - by admin & New York Magazine & Moon of & The Jerusalem Post & Reuters – 2018-05-02 00:34:49

UN Nuclear Agency: No Credible Indications of Iran Nuclear Activity After 2009

UN Nuclear Agency:
No Credible Indications of Iran Nuclear Activity After 2009

Rejects Israeli Claims Iran Is
Conducting ‘Secret’ Weapons Research

Jason Ditz/

(May 1, 2018) — The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued an assessment Tuesday addressing Israeli allegations of a “secret” Iranian nuclear program. The UN watchdog says there are “no credible indications” of any Iranian activities after 2009.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a presentation Monday intended to give President Trump a justification for killing the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu’s evidence, however, centered on research conducted before 2003, and which was well-known.

Netanyahu tried to present the old research, and then conclude that more secret activities are ongoing. The IAEA, however, has a level of access within Iran unrivaled by any other safeguards agreement in the world. That access means claims of a whole additional secret program aren’t particularly credible, and has led European countries to warn killing the P5+1 deal would threaten that access.

Iranian officials have also denied Israeli allegations of an ongoing program, saying Netanyahu “can’t stop crying wolf.” That seems to be the general consensus across most of the world, though President Trump is still expected to withdraw the US from the nuclear deal, and will likely use Netanyahu’s allegations as political cover for the international backlash.

Iran Gains, Then Loses, Nuclear Weapons
Program Thanks to White House ‘Clerical Error’

Margaret Hartmann / New York Magazine

FLAGGING: The White House adjusts its statement on Iran to say Iran “had,” not “has,” a “robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried & failed to hide from the world. . .”
— Peter Alexander

The Obama WH had a rule that any substantive revisions to statements couldn’t merely be adjusted online, as this was. The corrected version had to be formally re-issued. I doubt we’ll be seeing that from this WH even though this is a correction of huge consequence.
— Ned Price

They say it was a “clerical” error. How does a statement of this import, putting the White House at odds with the entire US intelligence community, get sent out so carelessly? And why did they correct it on the website but not issue a new statement?
— Andrea Mitchell

(May 1, 2018) — We’ve become so accustomed to typos in publications from the Trump White House that misspelling a foreign leader’s name or putting the wrong date on a condolence statement for a former first lady barely warrant a snide tweet.

But the White House Press Office did manage to get people’s attention on Monday night when it responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation arguing against the Iran nuclear deal with a statement declaring that Iran currently has a secret nuclear-weapons program.

“These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” said the statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Netanyahu certainly wanted to leave people with a sense that Iran wasn’t adhering to the terms of the agreement (see the slide that said in huge letters “Iran lied,” and the accompanying tweet), but the prime minister presented no evidence that Tehran is, at this moment, working on a nuclear weapon or violating the deal in any way.

Without offering any apology to those who thought the US was going to war with Iran, the White House corrected the line to the past tense when the statement was posted online: “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.”

When asked for clarification, the White House said it was a “clerical error,” but some pundits still weren’t satisfied.

But whatever, it’s not like* Trump just brought on a national security adviser who promoted false information to justify the war in Iraq, and has made it very clear that he’s interested in bombing Iran.

* Correction: Trump totally did.

Netanyahu’s “Iran Files” are Well Known,
Old and Purloined from Vienna

Moon of

(May 1, 2018) — The dog and pony show the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu provided yesterday was not based on material Israeli secret services acquired in Iran, but most likely from data Iran provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during the implementation period of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, pdf).

Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the Crisis Group, was the first to propose this thesis:
Ali Vaez @AliVaez — 18:06 UTC — 30 Apr 2018
5/ It appears to me that what Israel has done is that it has probably hacked the @iaeaorg and gathered some new details from what Iran responded to the agency to close the outstanding issues in 2015: IAEA Board Adopts Landmark Resolution on Iran PMD Case

Several nuclear proliferation experts point out that there was nothing new in Netanyahoo’s presentation:
Jeffrey Lewis @ArmsControlWonk — 00:14 UTC — 1 May 2018
Let’s go through Netanyahu’s dog-and-pony show. As you will see, everything he said was already known to the IAEA and published in IAEA GOV/2015/68 (2015). There is literally nothing new here and nothing that changes the wisdom of the JCPOA. 1/10

All the graphics, pictures and technical details Netanyahoo quoted were known to the IAEA and the negotiators of the agreement with Iran.

The tale the Israelis provide to explain how they got access to the files does not fit to the content of the “highly theatrical” presentation:
The senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a secret mission, said that Israel’s Mossad intelligence service discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then.

Mossad operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said.

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a political scientist at Columbia University, points to this slide and satellite picture in Netanyahoo’s presentation:

The pictured slide claims that Iran moved files to that location in 2017. But the Israeli sources tell the NYT that the Mossad detected the warehouse in early 2016. Why, if no nuclear files were there at that time, did the Mossad put a random warehouse in Tehran under observation?

Most likely both claims are false.

The slide above shows a screenshot of a satellite picture of Shurabad, a warehousing district in south Tehran. The coordinates are 35.494257. N, 51.356535 E. By comparing changes in the pictured buildings and a Google Earth historic timeline of satellite pictures Batmanghelidj finds that the picture Netanyahoo showed in his slide must have been taken between September 2014 and November 2015.

Other researchers confirm this analysis. Batmanghelidj notes that this time frame corresponds to the ‘implementation period’ of the JCPOA which began in January 2014 and ended in July 2015. During the period Iran provided, as agreed in the JCPOA, information about its nuclear research and gave IAEA inspectors access to all relevant locations and source material.

Israel claims it detected the archive site in early 2016. How does that fit with a satellite picture in the presentation that was then already replaced by newer ones and only available in a historic timeline view?

Presumably the satellite picture was part of the stash the Israelis acquired. But:
* Iran had no reason to give the IAEA such a picture. It gave the IAEA inspectors physical access to its sites and did not hide anything.

* The IAEA uses (pdf) Wikimapia, Google Earth and other open source tools to pursue and to document its work.

* It is thus very likely that the IAEA made that screenshot of a satellite picture at the time it inspected the site during the 2014 and 2015 period to document its work.

There are more inconsistencies in Netanyahu’s stunt. One of his slides shows the potential position of a nuclear device in a missile as drawn in a well-known 2003 sketch by Iranian scientists. He later claims that current Iranian missiles with a longer range could hold such a device.

That is wrong. The new Iranian missiles use a “baby bottle” nose cone that is too small to hold a device like the one researched by Iranian scientist 15 years ago. No current Iranian missile is capable of carrying such a nuclear device.

Following Netanyahu’s scaremongering show the IAEA provided this statement:
In December 2015, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano presented the Final Assessment on past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme to the IAEA Board of Governors.
. . .
The Agency’s overall assessment was that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003.

The Agency also assessed that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.
. . .
Based on the Director General’s report, the Board of Governors declared that its consideration of this issue was closed.

Iran did feasibility studies to assess what was needed to start a nuclear weapon development program. It never started such a program. The feasibility studies were related to a potential Iraqi nuclear weapon program which would have threatened Iran. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003 the potential danger of a hostile Iraq dissolved and Iran shut down its studies. The shutdown in 2003 was confirmed in a US National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 and by the IAEA.

Netanyahu presented old material of Iran’s old feasibility studies. Everything he presented was already well known and the technical details had long been discussed at length.

The claims of how and when the Israelis intelligence acquired the files do not make sense. The Mossad fairytale is that its agents broke into a warehouse building in Tehran, opened two dozen combination lock safes (slide 8 in the show), hauled out half a ton of materials and put those onto a plane to Israel in the very same night. Even Hollywood would reject such an implausible script.

The folders Netanyahoo presented were all empty.

The 2014/15 satellite picture used by Netanyahu in his slides is a further indication that the material was not obtained in Iran but from a (digital) archive at the IAEA in Vienna. The “half a ton” material of “55,000 printed pages” and “183 CDs” that Netanyahu implausibly claims was smuggled out of a “warehouse” in Tehran are most likely just a bunch of old data-files from the 2014/2015 IAEA investigation copied from a digital IAEA archive in Vienna. They likely fit on a SSD drive or a handful of USB sticks.

Netanyahu presented nonsense and lied just as he always does.

But the show was not in vain. As for its purpose we again refer to Ali Vaez:
Ali Vaez @AliVaez — 18:06 UTC — 30 Apr 2018
9/9 So all is all, this is a pretty clear attempt at recycling old info to create new hype and push @realDonaldTrump to pull the plug on the #IranDeal and push Iran and the US into a military conflict to weaken and contain Iran. Read more here: The Iran-US Trigger List

The show was coordinated with the White House and unnecessary to convince Trump who has, by all accounts, already decided to blow up the JCPOA deal. It might help though to increase public support for that decision.

US Officials Warn Israel Preparing for War With Iran
Israel insists it doesn’t seek a war against Iran

Jason Ditz /

(May 1, 2018) – Senior US officials told NBC on Tuesday that they believe a war between Israel and Iran is at the “top of the list” of potential conflicts worldwide. The officials said Israel is gearing up for such a war and is trying to get the US to participate in Syria.

Israeli officials denied this, saying they don’t “seek” a war against Iran. Despite this claim, Israeli military leadership has been taking up the need for a war to prevent Iran having a foothold in Syria for months on end.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman refused to directly address the US officials, saying he does’nt “read foreign publications.” He subsequently went on s creed about the “threats of Iran,” and declared “Israel has four problems: Iran, Iran, Iran, and hypocrisy.” Lieberman has been advocating a war on Iran for many years, nearly his entire political career.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, while saying Israel wasn’t “seeking” the war, was also clearly not ruling it out, saying that if such a war happened it would be because Iran is “changing the rules in the region.” Israel has been attacking Syria throughout the Syrian War. In recent months, those Israeli attacks have focused on Iranian targets.

Report: US Officials Say Israel Preparing for War with Iran in Syria
The US officials also blamed Israel for the airstrike
on military bases in the Syrian cities of
Hamas and Aleppo on Sunday that killed over
20 military personnel, including Iranians

Tovah Lazaroff and Michael Wilner / The Jerusalem Post

(May 1, 2018) — Israel seems to be preparing for military action with Iran in Syria and is seeking US help, three unnamed US officials told the American television station NBC on Tuesday.

“On the list of the potentials for most likely live hostility around the world, the battle between Israel and Iran in Syria is at the top of the list right now,” a senior US official told NBC.

The US officials also blamed Israel for the airstrike on military bases in the Syrian cities of Hamas and Aleppo on Sunday that killed over 20 military personnel, including Iranians.

Defense Minster Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday he would not respond to charges with regard to the airstrikes, adding, “I don’t read foreign publications.”

“The State of Israel can not afford to ignore the threats of Iran, whose senior officials routinely threaten the State of Israel, promise to wipe it out and continue to support terror. and therefore we will do everything we need to do,” Liberman said. “Iran is trying to hurt us and we will respond appropriately,” Liberman said.

“Israel has four problems: Iran, Iran, Iran and hypocrisy,” Liberman said as he spoke at a ceremony marking the exchange of command of the head of COGAT.

“What we see in the international arena is a surreal spectacle where those same countries that many years ago supported the Munich and and Molotov-Ribbentrop agreements continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore reality of Iran, which is trying to destabilize the entire Middle East, Yemen, Iraq,” he said at the ceremony marking the exchange of command of the head of COGAT.

“It is the same Iran that persecutes freedom of expression, minorities and all democratic values. This is the same Iran that tried to develop nuclear weapons and entered into an agreement in order to win many economic benefits, and this is the same Iran that is currently trying to hide its weapons program and everyone is trying to ignore it,” Liberman continued.

CNN on Monday asked Netanyahu if Israel was prepared to go to war against Iran. The Prime Minister responded: “Nobody’s seeking that kind of development. Iran is the one that’s changing the rules in the region.”

Pushing to Bury Iran Deal,
Israel Says No One Wants War with Tehran

Maayan Lubell, Dan Williams and Jonathan Landay / Reuters

JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (May 1, 2018) – Israel said on Tuesday it does not seek war with Iran and suggested US President Donald Trump backed Israel’s latest attempt to kill the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by disclosing purported evidence of past Iranian nuclear arms work.

A senior Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had informed Trump at a March 5 meeting about alleged evidence seized by Israel in what Netanyahu on Monday presented as a “great intelligence achievement”.

US and Israeli officials said the information showed Iran had lied about its past work to develop nuclear arms but intelligence experts said there was no smoking gun showing that Tehran had violated the nuclear deal under which it curbed its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions.

Tehran, which denies ever pursuing nuclear weapons, dismissed Netanyahu as “the boy who cried wolf,” and called his presentation propaganda.

Trump agreed at the March meeting that Israel would publish the information before May 12, the day he is due to decide whether the United States should quit the nuclear deal with Iran, an adversary of both countries, the Israeli official said.

Word of the consultations between Trump and Netanyahu serves to underscore perceptions of a coordinated bid by both leaders to bury the international agreement, which Trump has called “horrible” and Netanyahu has termed “terrible.”

Others briefed on the material in March included Mike Pompeo, who was then CIA director and is now secretary of state; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and former White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, a former US official said.

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