Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday accused Western leaders and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of hypocrisy for targeting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, while ignoring Israel’s plan to significantly expand its Dimona nuclear site in the Negev desert.
The official tweeted a link to a recent report published by the Guardian newspaper which said that Israel’s nuclear research facility near the southern city of Dimona is undergoing a major expansion.
“Israel is expanding Dimona, the region’s only nuclear bomb factory,” Zarif tweeted, tagging US President Joe Biden, the IAEA, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Concerned? A little?
Care to comment?
I thought so. pic.twitter.com/qwvlKONEqi
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 20, 2021
“Gravely concerned? Concerned? A little? Care to comment? I thought so,” he wrote.
Last Thursday, the Guardian reported that Israel is carrying out a major expansion of its Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev desert, “where it has historically made the fissile material for its nuclear arsenal”.
The paper said satellite images released by the International Panel on Fissile Material (IPFM), an independent expert group, have revealed that the area being worked on is a few hundred metres across to the south and west of the domed reactor and reprocessing point at the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Centre, near the desert town of Dimona.
The Guardian reported, Pavel Podvig, a researcher with the programme on science and global security at Princeton University, saying: “It appears that the construction started quite early in 2019, or late 2018, so it’s been underway for about two years, but that’s all we can say at this point.”
Dimona’s role in Israel’s nuclear weapons programme was first disclosed by a former technician at the site, Mordechai Vanunu, in an interview with the Sunday Times in 1986.
In 1988, he was convicted of treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was release in 2004.