Political News

Ex-CIA chief says Netanyahu's Iran nukes announcement was 'old news'

Posted April 30, 2018 8:44 a.m. EDT

— Former CIA Director Michael Hayden downplayed on Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's dramatic presentation in which he accused Iran of "brazenly lying" over its nuclear ambitions.

"To the best of my knowledge -- out of government, not getting the briefings -- I think this is fundamentally old news," Hayden told CNN's "New Day."

On Monday, Netanyahu gave a presentation in English in which he claimed Israel has evidence that Iranian officials were "brazenly lying" when they said Iran wasn't pursuing nuclear weapons and that the Islamic Republic is keeping an "atomic archive" at a secret compound.

Calling it one of the greatest achievements in the history of Israeli intelligence, Netanyahu displayed what he said were files that demonstrate Iran planned to continue pursuing a nuclear weapons program despite the 2015 deal it brokered with the international community.

Hayden told "New Day" the US has known many of Netanyahu's recently announced findings for more than a decade.

"We created a national intelligence estimate in 2007 that said that the Iranians had stopped the weaponization part of their program -- missiles still going on, centrifuges still spinning -- but the actual building of the weapon, that they had stopped in 2003," Hayden said.

He added that the trove of documents and digital records obtained by the Israelis gives "more detail to the plotline that we all knew, that we all agreed, existed."

The former National Security Agency director went on to say that based on American intelligence, "some research went on" and Iran was "hedging their bets" to "keep their options open."

"But we went in and told President (George W.) Bush and Vice President (Dick) Cheney and that was the heavy lift," Hayden continued. "They're still bad folks. They're still heading in a bad direction, but our intelligence estimate now is they've stopped this particular activity."

Netanyahu's presentation, Hayden suggested, may have been geared toward President Donald Trump. He added that in the intelligence field, some sources have labels to their remarks that say their comments were "designed to influence as well as to inform."

"I think that might apply to what the Prime Minister said yesterday," Hayden remarked.