Netanyahu pushed U.S. to attack Iran with fabricated nuclear documents: report

May 1, 2020 - 16:41

TEHRAN — The Iranian nuclear documents presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were an Israeli fabrication designed to trigger U.S. into a war with Iran, according to an investigation.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018 partly based on Netanyahu’s claim that Iran was determined to build nuclear weapons, the investigation said. 

In April 2018, Netanyahu claimed publicly that Israel’s Mossad spy agency had stolen Iran’s entire nuclear archive from Tehran. “You may well know that Iran’s leaders repeatedly deny ever pursuing nuclear weapons…” he declared. “Well, tonight, I’m here to tell you one thing: Iran lied. Big time.”

However, an investigation of the supposed Iranian nuclear documents by The Grayzone reveals them to be the product of an Israeli disinformation operation that helped trigger the most serious threat of war since the conflict with Iran began nearly four decades ago. 

The following is an excerpt of an article published in The Grayzone on Wednesday:

This investigation found multiple indications that the story of Mossad’s heist of 50,000 pages of secret nuclear files from Tehran was very likely an elaborate fiction and that the documents were fabricated by the Mossad itself.

According to the official Israeli version of events, the Iranians had gathered the nuclear documents from various locations and moved them to what Netanyahu himself described as “a dilapidated warehouse” in southern Tehran. Even assuming that Iran had secret documents demonstrating the development of nuclear weapons, the claim that top secret documents would be held in a nondescript and unguarded warehouse in central Tehran is so unlikely that it should have raised immediate alarm bells about the story’s legitimacy.

Even more problematic was the claim by a Mossad official to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman that Mossad knew not only in what warehouse its commandos would find the documents but precisely which safes to break into with a blowtorch. The official told Bergman the Mossad team had been guided by an intelligence asset to the few safes in the warehouse contained the binders with the most important documents. Netanyahu bragged publicly that “very few” Iranians knew the location of the archive; the Mossad official told Bergman “only a handful of people” knew.

No proof of authenticity

Netanyahu’s April 30 slide show presented a series of purported Iranian documents containing sensational revelations that he pointed to as proof of his insistence that Iran had lied about its interest in manufacturing nuclear weapons. The visual aides included a file supposedly dating back to early 2000 or before that detailed various ways to achieve a plan to build five nuclear weapons by mid-2003.

Another document that generated widespread media interest was an alleged report on a discussion among leading Iranian scientists of a purported mid-2003 decision by Iran’s defense minister to separate an existing secret nuclear weapons program into overt and covert parts.

Left out of the media coverage of these “nuclear archive” documents was a simple fact that was highly inconvenient to Netanyahu: nothing about them offered a scintilla of evidence that they were genuine. For example, not one contained the official markings of the relevant Iranian agency.


What those documents do have in common is the mark of a rubber stamp for a filing system showing numbers for a “record”, a “file” and a “ledger binder” — like the black binders that Netanyahu flashed to the cameras during his slideshow. But these could have easily been created by the Mossad and stamped on to the documents along with the appropriate Persian numbers.

Forensic confirmation of the documents’ authenticity would have required access to the original documents. But as Netanyahu noted in his April 30, 2018 slide show, the “original Iranian materials” were kept “in a very safe place” – implying that no one would be allowed to have any such access.

Withholding access to outside experts

In fact, even the most pro-Israeli visitors to Tel Aviv have been denied access to the original documents. David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security and Olli Heinonen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – both stalwart defenders of the official Israeli line on Iranian nuclear policy – reported in October 2018 that they had been given only a “slide deck” showing reproductions or excerpts of the documents.

When a team of six specialists from Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs visited Israel in January 2019 for briefings on the archive, they too were offered only a cursory browse of the supposedly original documents. Harvard Professor Matthew Bunn recalled in an interview with this writer that the team had been shown one of the binders containing what were said to be original documents relating to Iran’s relations with the IAEA and had “paged through a bit of it.”

But they were shown no documents on Iran nuclear weapons work. As Bunn admitted, “We weren’t attempting to do any forensic analysis of these documents.”

Typically, it would be the job of the U.S. government and the IAEA to authenticate the documents. Oddly, the Belfer Center delegation reported that the U.S. government and the IAEA had each received only copies of the entire archive, not the original files. And the Israelis were in no hurry to provide the genuine articles: the IAEA did not receive a complete set of documents until November 2019, according to Bunn.

By then, Netanyahu had not only already accomplished the demolition of the Iran nuclear deal; he and Trump’s ferociously hawkish CIA-director Mike Pompeo had maneuvered the president into a policy of imminent confrontation with Tehran.

The second coming of fake missile drawings

Among the documents Netanyahu flashed on the screen in his April 30, 2018 slide show was a schematic drawing of the missile reentry vehicle of an Iranian Shahab-3 missile, showing what was obviously supposed to represent a nuclear weapon inside.

This drawing was part of a set of eighteen technical drawings of the Shahab-3 reentry vehicle. These were found in a collection of documents secured over the course of several years between the Bush II and Obama administrations by an Iranian spy working for Germany’s BND intelligence service. Or so the Israeli official story went.

In 2013, however, a former senior German Foreign Office official named Karsten Voigt revealed to this writer that the documents had been initially provided to German intelligence by a member of the Mujaheddin E-Khalq (MEK).

The MEK is an exiled Iranian armed opposition organization that had operated under Saddam Hussein’s regime as a proxy against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. It went on to cooperate with the Israeli Mossad beginning in the 1990s, and enjoys a close relationship with Saudi Arabia as well. Today, numerous former U.S. officials are on the MEK’s payroll, acting as de facto lobbyists for regime change in Iran.

Voigt recalled how senior BND officials warned him they did not consider the MEK source or the materials he provided to be credible. They were worried that the Bush administration intended to use the dodgy documents to justify an attack on Iran, just as it exploited the tall tales collected from Iraqi defector codenamed “Curveball” to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The role of the MEK in passing the massive tranche of supposed secret Iranian nuclear documents to the BND and its hand-in-glove relationship with the Mossad leaves little room for doubt that the documents introduced to Western intelligence 2004 were, in fact, created by the Mossad.

For the Mossad, the MEK was a convenient unit for outsourcing negative press about Iran which it did not want attributed directly to Israeli intelligence. To enhance the MEK’s credibility in the eyes of foreign media and intelligence agencies, Mossad passed the coordinates of Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility to the MEK in 2002. Later, it provided to the MEK personal information such as the passport number and home telephone number of Iranian physics professor Mohsen Fakhrizadh, whose name appeared in the nuclear documents, according to the co-authors of a best-selling Israeli book on the Mossad’s covert operations.

By trotting out the same discredited technical drawing depicting the wrong Iranian missile reentry vehicle – a trick he had previously deployed to create the original case for accusing Iran of covert nuclear weapons development – the Israeli prime minister showed how confident he was in his ability to hoodwink Washington and the Western corporate media.

Netanyahu’s multiple levels of deception have been remarkably successful, despite having relied on crude stunts that any diligent news organization should have seen through. Through his manipulation of foreign governments and media, he has been able to maneuver Donald Trump and the United States into a dangerous process of confrontation that has brought the U.S. to the precipice of military conflict with Iran.

MH/PA

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