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The IAEA judged that substantial work on nuclear weapons development ceased in 2003, and that there was no evidence of weapons research after 2009. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, the task of investigating Iran’s nuclear past was handed to the IAEA.

Netanyahu’s presentation came less than two weeks before Donald Trump is due to decide whether to continue to abide by the 2015 deal by waiving US sanctions on Iran. Asked about the Israeli evidence on Monday, Trump said it proved he was “100% right” about the flaws of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action (JCPOA)

Olli Heinonen, the former chief inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said his department first saw the documentation that Netanyahu presented in 2005. The safeguards department that Heinonen ran came to the conclusion that the evidence of weapon design work known as the Amad project was credible, but that substantial work on the project ceased in 2003. Heinonen gave a classified briefing on Amad to the IAEA board in 2008.

“Some of the images that we saw I briefed to the board in closed session in February 2008,” Heinonen said. He added that the IAEA did not see the full archive of Amad documentation, but was given the most important evidence. The IAEA made public some of its evidence on Iran’s past nuclear weapons work in 2011. It found that some research work had continued after 2003, but found no evidence of such research activities after 2009.

Netanyahu, who is known for theatrical presentations, pulled black sheets from a cabinet filled with folders that he said were copies of 55,000 pages of “incriminating” evidence. He revealed a screen to which close to 200 CDs had been affixed, saying they held videos and photos of clandestine Iranian nuclear research and development.

Netanyahu did not detail how Israel obtained what he said was a half a tonne of “evidence” from a warehouse in Tehran, or say if the maps, diagrams, powerpoint slides and spreadsheets would be shared with the public. However, he said Israel would forward the cache to the IAEA.

Based on the documentation that the IAEA reviewed, its director general, Yukiya Amano, said in December 2015: “The agency assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities.”

“The agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009,” Amano said. “Nor has the agency found any credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

“Without going through it with a fine-tooth comb, what Netanyahu is presenting is broadly consistent with what the IAEA has reported,” said James Acton, the co-director of the nuclear policy programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. But Acton added that the main purpose of the presentation was to influence Trump before the 12 May sanctions deadline.

After Netanyahu’s presentation, Zarif described it on Twitter as a “rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA”. He suggested it had been orchestrated to justify Trump’s looming decision to “nix the deal”. Javad Zarif (@JZarif)

Pres. Trump is jumping on a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA to “nix” the deal. How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf just days before May 12. But Trump’s impetuousness to celebrate blew the cover. https://t.co/5gxmmZcrF7 April 30, 2018