Watchdog says no sign of Iran nuclear weapon program after 2009

The watchdog in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear program said that it has not had any evidence the country was developing a nuclear weapon since nearly a decade ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime opponent of the “Iran deal” signed in 2015 to curb its capabilities, laid out intelligence evidence on Monday that he said showed a secret weapons program.

Iranian leaders have maintained that the nuclear program was only for peaceful uses, though the international community had previously worried that it could inject weapons of mass destruction into a Middle East already taut with tension.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which operates under the United Nations, responded to Netanyahu’s attention-grabbing speech on Tuesday by pointing to the fact that it did not have evidence of any moves towards a nuclear bomb for years.

“The Agency had no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009,” it said, referencing a report on the matter done after the deal.

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It said that though there were structures for potentially making a bomb before 2003 and less coordinated efforts for another six years, it now considers the issue closed.

The 2015 deal saw Iran agree to steep curbs in its nuclear program, as well as international monitoring, in exchange for billions in relief from international sanctions that had crippled its economy.

President Trump, who slammed the Obama administration deal during his campaign, faces a routine May 12 deadline to certify the deal after saying earlier this year that he had done so for the last time.

The international community, including recent visits to the U.S. from France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, has sought to keep the U.S. in the deal.

Many observers viewed Netanyahu’s speech, in English, as pushing Trump towards nixing the agreement, which Iran has suggested would lead it to restart its program.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who unlike his predecessor Rex Tillerson opposes the accord, said afterwards that the Israeli’s speech shows the deal was “built on lies.”

After the IAEA statement, Netanyahu responded Tuesday morning to critics such as ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden, who said that his speech did not show anything dramatically new.

He told CNNthat the trove of documents “shows how advanced they were in their bomb making work” and that he disagreed that the deal makes the world safer than no deal.

Netanyahu did not answer a question comparing Iranian transparency over its program to Israel, which is widely believed to hold nuclear weapons but does not acknowledge them.