BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND RAPHAEL AHREN, Times of Israel—
A newly released report by the UN’s atomic watchdog on the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program “proved beyond any doubt that Iran operated a secret program to develop nuclear weapons, including after 2003,” Israel said Wednesday night.
The UN report said Iran conducted nuclear weapons-related research until 2003 and to a lesser extent until 2009, but that there was no proof of such research since then.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report “exposed the techniques of deception and obfuscation that Iran employed regarding its nuclear program.”
The most blatant example of Iranian mendacity is “its conduct around the Parchin facility, where the Iranians tried to cover up evidence of their illegal activity,” the statement said.
“Israel expects the international community to continue its investigation through the IAEA on these issues and to use all means at its disposal to ensure that Iran cannot secretly build a nuclear weapon,” the statement added. “Without completing this investigation, the world will not know how far Iran went in its secret program, and what its current status is.”
Earlier Wednesday, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who held the Iranian dossier in the previous government, said the report did not soothe Israeli concerns about the Islamic republic’s atomic ambitions.
Steinitz accused Tehran of lying about its activities, and said the report “far from calms Israel’s fears.”
“The report raises significant suspicions that Iran has continued, even recently, to try to hide its nuclear activity,” Steinitz said, adding that Tehran previously “tried to disrupt the agency’s investigation.”
Iran said Wednesday evening that it considers the allegations of its past nuclear weapons research closed after the IAEA published its report.
“It can be said that all measures regarding previous issues have been completely concluded and the PMD issue has been closed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told state television.
He was referring to the “possible military dimensions” of Iran‘s nuclear program, which has been long investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran had said Sunday that there would be no final implementation of a July 14 nuclear deal with world powers as long as the probe into allegations of past weapons research remained open.
On Channel 2 television, Ehud Yaari, one of Israel’s premier Middle East analysts, said the IAEA’s conclusions on Iran’s nuclear program pave the way for the nuclear deal to go ahead.
Iran has always denied seeking to develop atomic weapons capability, insisting its nuclear activities are for peaceful energy production and medical purposes only.
The actual report notes that Iran did research relevant to the development of atomic weapons until 2003 and to a much lesser degree until as late as 2009. No research related to nuclear weapons could be confirmed later than 2009.
Araqchi said that all Iranian studies on dual-use technologies before 2003 were conducted for peaceful ends.
Regarding a the existence of experiment chamber in Parchin, based on satellite photos, Araqchi said Iran provided the IAEA with “more reliable photos negating its claims.”
According to the IRNA report, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano visited Parchin in person and “saw no chamber there.”
Iran has on several occasions announced that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine, he said.