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The News Minute | February 24, 2015 | 9.20 IST Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and publicly claimed at the United Nations in 2012 that Iran was producing nuclear weapons, when his own intelligence contradicted these claims. A large cache of South African intelligence documents leaked to Al Jazeera and shared with The Guardian showed that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, thought that Iran was working in legitimate areas, such as the enrichment of uranium for reactors. The Guardian report says: “Behind the scenes, Mossad took a different view. In a report shared with South African spies on 22 October 2012 – but likely written earlier – it conceded that Iran was “working to close gaps in areas that appear legitimate, such as enrichment reactors, which will reduce the time required to produce weapons from the time the instruction is actually given”. But the report also states that Iran “does not appear to be ready” to enrich uranium to the higher levels necessary for nuclear weapons. To build a bomb requires enrichment to 90%. Mossad estimated that Iran then had “about 100kg of material enriched to 20%” (which was later diluted or converted under the terms of the 2013 Geneva agreement). Iran has always said it is developing a nuclear programme for civilian energy purposes.” However, while addressing a United Nations gathering, Netanyahu said: “By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.” The intelligence documents leaked are exchanges between the South African intelligence and the intelligence agencies from around the world, including from Israel, US, France, Britain, Jordan, UAE, Oman and several African countries.  This leak comes 20 months after Edward Snowden leaked NSA and GCHQ documents to The Guardian. While those documents were records of surveillance, the South African documents are reports of what is known as “himint” or human intelligence in spy parlance. The Guradian reports that these include “surveillance reports, inter-agency information trading, disinformation and backbiting, as well as evidence of infiltration, theft and blackmail”. Iran is perceived to be a hostile state by Israel and its ally the United States. Both countries have been alleging that Iran has been working to produce nuclear weapons, but Iran has always maintained that its work with nuclear energy is meant for civilian usage. The stand-off between Israel and the United States on the one hand and Iran on the other, is perceived to contribute to instability in the Middle East. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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