Brussels (Brussels Morning) Stating that Iran has “crossed all red lines” when it comes to its nuclear programme, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has pledged that his government will not permit Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.
Addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time in his capacity as PM, Bennett accused Iran on Monday of “seeking to dominate” the region under a “nuclear umbrella”, as he appealed for a more focused international effort to stop the country’s nuclear activities.
Bennett pledged that “Israel will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” warning that the country’s nuclear programme has hit a “watershed moment”, and that Israel would no longer tolerate it. “Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning,” Bennett declared.
Iran resumed uranium enrichment in recent years at levels above the limit deemed sufficient for civilian purposes, after former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear treaty and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.
Iran returned to talks on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan on Action as US President Joe Biden took office. However, the talks have largely stalled since ultra-conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s President in June. Raisi’s administration has signalled its intention to continue indirect negotiations with the US in Vienna, alhough no further rounds of talks have been held since the Iranian elections.
Bennett, who replaced Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in June, has continued his predecessor’s policy of pledging to do “whatever necessary” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, which Israel has traditionally viewed as an existential threat.
Israel has taken more radical steps to slow down and stop Iran’s nuclear programme in the past. In November last year, a top Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated with a remote-controlled machine gun, reportedly smuggled into Iran in pieces by the Israeli intelligence.
In April, a mysterious explosion damaged centrifuges at the Iranian nuclear facility Natanz, while a fire that broke out in July last year damaged the facility’s centrifuge assembly plant. Both incidents are believed to have been acts of sabotage by Israeli agents and assets.