Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone to great lengths to make his opinions about Iran’s nuclear program known, often through visual demonstrations. In the past, these efforts have largely been ridiculed or dismissed ― but his latest presentation clearly reached the person it was meant for.
In 2012, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu pulled out a drawing of a cartoon bomb with a lit fuse to illustrate the dangerous progress Tehran was making with its uranium enrichment program. The drawing became the subject of endless jokes, and was unofficially dubbed the “Bibi Bomb.”
Then last month, Netanyahu delivered a presentation complete with props and a large screen, on which he spelled out one key message in letters almost as tall as himself: “Iran lied.” He said the display included details from secret documents that proved Tehran had pursued nuclear weapons in defiance of the Iran nuclear deal.
Experts quickly noted that much of the material from the presentation predated the nuclear agreement, which the U.S. and other world powers established in 2015 to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb in exchange for sanction relief.
But U.S. President Donald Trump, an outspoken critic of the deal who watched “a little bit” of Netanyahu’s presentation, interpreted it as confirmation that his views on Iran were “100 percent right.”
“Prime Minister Netanyahu just gave a very ― I don’t know if everybody’s seen it, but I got to see a little bit of it ― and that is just not an acceptable situation,” Trump said hours later. “I think if anything, what’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while and what we’ve learned, has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right.”
Little more than a week later, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The highly controversial move comes in defiance of U.S. allies’ pleas to save the agreement from collapse, and leaves an uncertain future for Iran’s nuclear program. Trump also said he will reinstate the sanctions on Tehran that had been lifted under the JCPOA.
While making the announcement on Tuesday, Trump hailed Netanyahu’s presentation as “definitive proof” that Iran was indeed lying about its nuclear ambitions.
“At the heart of the Iran deal is a fiction, that Iran only desired a peaceful nuclear energy program. Today we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie,” Trump said. “Last week Israel published intelligence documents, long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranians’ regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.”
However, just last month, Trump’s own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before Congress that there was no evidence of Iranian noncompliance with the JCPOA.
Netanyahu praised Trump’s “bold” decision Tuesday afternoon, even as messages of condemnation poured in from other world leaders.
“Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran,” he said. “Israel thanks President Trump for his courageous leadership.”