Last Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a media presentation, detailing documentation of an Iranian nuclear weapons program he claims was discovered by Israeli spies. However, the documents pertain to activity which took place before the nuclear deal, and the bulk of the material was known or suspected by the signatories. In fact, the likelihood of such a program was the driving force behind negotiating the deal. In other words, Netanyahu’s stunt was an obvious attempt to disseminate anti-Iran propaganda and to persuade President Trump to decertify the deal on May 12.
The other signatories of the deal (UK, France, Russia, China, Germany) were unmoved by the presentation, and appear to all remain on board with the agreement. The UK and France both made the argument that the information only makes the nuclear agreement more vital. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Netanyahu’s presentation showed the “importance of keeping the Iran nuclear deal’s constraints on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi even called out Netanyahu’s motivation for the presentation, calling it “a prearranged show with the aim of impacting Trump’s decision, or perhaps it is a coordinated plan by him and Trump in order to destroy the J.C.P.O.A.”
The Trump administration fell in line quickly behind Netanyahu. Later in the week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement, reading in part:
“The deal was not constructed on a foundation of good faith or transparency. It was built on Iran’s lies. Iran’s nuclear deception is inconsistent with Iran’s pledge in the nuclear deal ‘that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons.'”
Here, he conflates activities which took place before the agreement with a violation of the agreement. This is not logical. However, it doesn’t matter, as it can become one more talking point for why the administration withdrew from the agreement, which is almost certain to happen this weekend. Netanyahu’s performance was pure propaganda, associating “Iranian lies” with the nuclear deal, though the two are not really related: “The nuclear deal is based on lies. It’s based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception. 100,000 files right here prove that they lied.” Bibi made no attempt to hide his intentions at the end of his presentation, saying, “In a few days time, President Trump will decide on what to do with the nuclear deal. I’m sure he’ll do the right thing.”
That is, the right thing for Netanyahu and Israel.