2018-07-18 / Editorial

Israeli spy mission raises questions about Iran nuke deal

A raid of an Iranian warehouse that stored nuclear secrets by Mossad agents draws parallels to George Clooney’s “Oceans 11” plotline – only it really happened and it proves that Israel’s adversary had advanced its atomic program further than it had led on during talks that led to the historic 2015 multi-national deal.

Some 50,000 pages and 163 compact discs worth of intel, revealed recently in a New York Times article detailing the mission, shows that despite Iranian insistence that its program was peaceful, the country had worked in the past to systematically assemble all materials and equipment needed to produce atomic weapons. Although experts are divided whether the purloined information supports or disproves the effectiveness of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that limits Iran’s ability to produce nuclear fuel until 2030, it certainly puts into question both Iran’s trustworthiness and future intent.

The heist involved two dozen spies, sophisticated alarm systems, metal safes, high-powered explosives and a mere six and a half hours to get the job done. It was completed in January and detailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the spring shortly before U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, which granted broad rights to the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit suspected nuclear sites. The warehouse the Israelis targeted by the raid was off limits of the deal and only put into use after the accord was reached with the United States, European powers, Russia and China.

The Iranians have maintained that the entire trove was made up by Israelis. But American and British intelligence officials believe it is genuine.

Netanyahu said that the purloined material proves that the 2015 agreement, with its sunset clauses allowing the Iranians to produce nuclear fuel again after 2030, was naïve. The length Iranians went to preserve what they had learned, and to hide the archive’s contents from international inspectors, he has said is evidence of their future intent.

However, former members of the Obama administration, who negotiated the deal, say the archive proves what they had suspected all along: that Iran had advanced fuel capability, warhead designs and a plan to build them rapidly. That was exactly why they negotiated the accord, which forced Iran to ship 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country.

The arguments raised are not purely academic. Iran is considered the leading state sponsor of terror in the Middle East and arguably Israel’s most dangerous neighbor. We hope the trove of information will cause the international community to be even more concerned and vigilant about Iran’s intentions and actions. 

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