Netanyahu accuses Iran of destroying secret 'nuclear site'

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of having a previously undisclosed site aimed at developing nuclear weapons that it destroyed.

Iran destroyed the site located near the city of Abadeh, south of Isfahan, sometime between late June and late July after realising that Israel had detected it, Netanyahu alleged.

In an address on live television, with photos of the alleged site on a screen behind him, Netanyahu referred to an intelligence trove he had previously announced last year.

"Today we reveal that yet another secret nuclear site was exposed in the archives that we brought from Tehran," Netanyahu said.

"In this site, Iran conducted experiments to develop nuclear weapons... When Iran realised that we uncovered the site, here's what they did: They destroyed the site, they just wiped it out."

The prime minister, whose country is an arch-enemy of Iran, did not provide further details on the alleged experiments, or when they purportedly were held.

When he announced the intelligence trove allegedly obtained from a secret compound in Tehran, Netanyahu said he had new "proof" of an Iranian nuclear weapons plan that could be activated at any time.

But while Netanyahu then accused Iran of lying about its atomic ambitions, he did not provide evidence that Tehran had actively worked to obtain the bomb since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Netanyahu's latest statement comes just days ahead of Israel's September 17 polls in which he is facing a difficult re-election campaign.

Iran has been scaling back its commitments under the 2015 deal in response to US President Donald Trump's pullout from the accord and reimposition of sanctions.