07:51 GMT +316 October 2018
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    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows guided missile sites in Beirut during his address of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

    Iran's Zarif Shrugs Off Netanyahu's Secret Nuke Storage Claims as 'Smokescreen'

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    This week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu took the most global of stages at a UN gathering in New York to accuse Iran of hiding nuclear equipment and materials. Earlier this year, the US withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal after Netanyahu claimed Tehran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has lashed out at Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over claims that Tehran has been concealing a secret atomic warehouse.

    "He's just trying to find a smokescreen," Zarif said in an excerpt of an interview set to air on CBS's public affairs program "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

    Iran's top diplomat went on to brand Netanyahu's accusations as "nonsense." "He's been wrong about the previous [allegations] and he's wrong about this one," Zarif added. "The previous allegations that Netanyahu made have been investigated by the IAEA and have been rejected."

    During the UN General Assembly meeting on Thursday, Netanyahu accused Iran of storing "massive amounts" of nuclear equipment and material in a secret nuclear facility in Tehran, disguised as a rug-cleaning factory.

    Zarif vehemently denied the claim and went on the offensive, alleging that Israel was the only country in the region to have a concealed nuclear weapons program.

    IAEA, the United Nations atomic watchdog, confirmed in its latest report in August that Iran had complied with the requirements for uranium enrichment levels, enriched uranium stocks and other terms.

    Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of Iran's nuclear activity. He has repeatedly claimed that Tehran was pursuing nuclear weapons, sidestepping the 2015 nuclear deal that curbed its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of crippling economic sanctions. In late April, the Israeli PM presented what he said were secret files obtained by Israeli intelligence that demonstrate Iran's plans to continue working on nuclear weapons.

    Following Netanyahu's accusations, US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 agreement. Citing efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Trump claimed that the "poorly negotiated" deal allowed Iran to reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.

    The US president went on to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran and on firms doing business with the country, prompting many investors to leave the local market. Trump's move was praised by Netanyahu but drew condemnation from the remaining signatories, including the UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China.

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    Tags:
    nuclear deal, nuclear program, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel
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