Bibi Netanyahu’s annual dog-and-pony show ambled into UN General Assembly today as he made yet another bombastic, hectoring speech assaulting Iran for its alleged sins of omission and commission. Like the shambling history professor his father was, he trots out audio-visual aids to reinforce his major argument and they invariably resemble the cartoon exploding cannonball he utilized a few years ago.
This year, he exposed a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran which held “300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material” used in Iran’s former program. He also claimed, somewhat preposterously, that the Iranians, desperate to erase their tracks, removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material and spread it in the streets of the city. If they did so, it would be incredibly easy to detect the radioactivity. Further, Iran has numerous sites where it stores such material, in total accord with the JCPOA agreement. Why it would need to smear the streets of Tehran with radioactivity is beyond me and beyond belief.
But the coup de grâce regarding Bibi’s performance is this response from two current U.S. officials:
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States is aware of the facility Netanyahu announced and described it as a “warehouse” used to store “records and archives” from Iran’s nuclear programme.
A second U.S. intelligence official called Netanyahu’s comments “somewhat misleading. First, we have known about this facility for some time, and it’s full of file cabinets and paper, not aluminium tubes for centrifuges, and second, so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out of the JCPOA any faster than it otherwise could.”
Keep in mind these are two official in the Trump administration, which hates Iran as much or more than Bibi himself. Even they’re unimpressed.
But even if we credit Netanyahu’s report as being true, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Iran storing equipment or even radioactive material in a warehouse. They point is not to be using it to enrich uranium or build a nuclear weapon. There is nothing in the JCPOA saying Iran must destroy every piece of equipment it once used to in such a program.
I found especially offensive Netanyahu’s reference to his father being a Jewish history professor, as if that gave him purchase to lecture the world on the meaning of history:
I’m an historian’s son, I have to ask. I ask not merely as an historian’s son, I ask it as a Jew, as a citizen of the world, as someone who’s lived through the 20th century: Have these European leaders learned nothing from history? Will they ever wake up?
Being a historian’s son doesn’t mean Bibi is a historian. In fact, I’ve regularly exposed the shambles he makes of Jewish history.
Each year Bibi opens his bag of tricks and tries to outdo himself. And like the Oscar movie awards show, each year the audience shrinks. At first, there was the novelty of it. But after he pulled that first rabbit out of his hat and the audience oohed and ahhed, the shock wore off. By now, he’s long-since jumped the shark. Hardly anyone cares except Israelis. And many of them must be bored with it by now.
No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons program – including an *actual atomic arsenal*. Time for Israel to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons program to international inspectors.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 27, 2018
Graphic artists had such fun with Bibi’s exploding cannon ball that I’d hoped they’d go to town with his “atomic warehouse” meme. I imagined someone photoshopping the image of him holding up a map of the warehouse site and replacing it with a board game called “Bibi’s Atomic Warehouse!” An alternate take on the subject would be Bibi holding up a similar map image, except it would show the IDF headquarters, the Kirya, in the heart of Tel Aviv. The caption should read: “Israel’s Not-So-Secret Atomic Warehouse.” Because of course, as Iran’s foreign minister tweeted above, Israel’s nuclear arsenal is no secret. Israel’s refusal to join the Non Proliferation Treaty is also public record. Compared to Israel, Iran is almost a choir boy with regard to its nuclear ambitions: it has no nuclear weapons, has abided by the terms of JCPOA, and is an NPT signatory. Israel? Not so much.