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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presenting to the United Nations in New York in September 2012. (Photo: Getty Images/AFP)

Israeli Claims About Iran Nuclear Program Denied By Own Spy Agency

Leaked internal assessment, obtained by Al Jazeera and the Guardian, contradicts Netanyahu's claim in 2012 that Iran was within a year of possessing an atom bomb

Sarah Lazare

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim three years ago that Iran was within close reach of possessing a nuclear bomb was denied by his government's own spy agency, Mossad, a top secret document obtained by Al Jazeera and the Guardian reveals.

In a September 2012 address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Netanyahu claimed that Iran was 90 down the road to developing an atomic weapon and would do so within the year. "By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage," he stated.

However, the leaked internal documents paint a much different picture.

On October 22, 2012—less than a month after Netanyahu's speech—Mossad sent a classified assessment to South Africa, stating that Iran was "not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons" and "doesn't appear to be ready to enrich uranium to the higher levels needed for a nuclear bomb."

"That view tracks with the 2012 U.S. National Intelligence estimate," Al Jazeera notes, "which found no evidence that Iran had thus far taken a decision to use its nuclear infrastructure to build a weapon, or that it had revived efforts to research warhead design that the US said had been shelved in 2003."

Israel, on the other hand, is the only nuclear weapon state in the Middle East, in possession of at least 80 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The prime minister has used claims that Iran is close to producing a nuclear bomb to justify military escalation and argue against ongoing diplomatic talks between Iran and the p5+1 countries: the U.S., Russia, China, United Kingdom, France,  Germany.

At the invitation of the Republican Party, Netanyahu will make a controversial address to Congress on March 3rd, in what is expected to be another attempt to sabotage talks. The planned speech has garnered widespread opposition, from within Washington as well as grassroots movements, and a push for lawmakers to boycott the address has already gained considerable traction.

Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council told Common Dreams that the latest revelations make Netanyahu's motives transparent. "It is very clear that he is opposed to any deal," said Abdi. "The adage has been that no deal is better than a bad deal, but it is clear that for Netanyahu, no deal is better than a good deal if he can't even agree with the assessments of his own security establishment."


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