Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Iran of “lying to the world” about its nuclear program, days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation.
“Israel views with utmost gravity the situation reflected in the report, which proves that Iran is continuing to lie to the world and advance a program to develop nuclear weapons, while denying its international commitments,” Bennett said in a statement.
“I call for an appropriate and rapid international reaction to the severe actions of Iran. The IAEA report warns that the time to act is now; therefore, the naive expectation that Iran will be prepared to change its path via negotiations has been proven to be baseless,” he added.
“Only a vigorous stand by the international community, backed up by decisions and actions, will be able to lead to a change by the regime in Tehran, which has lost all restraint. Israel will do everything to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.”
The IAEA reported to its members that there had been no progress on two central issues: explaining uranium traces found at several old, undeclared sites and getting urgent access to some monitoring equipment so that the agency can continue to keep track of parts of Iran's nuclear program.
Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi warned the West against taking action based on the IAEA report. “In the event of a counterproductive approach at the IAEA, it would not make sense to expect Iran to react constructively. Counterproductive measures are naturally disruptive to the negotiation path also,” he said.
The agency’s report will likely be another complication in the nuclear talks between Iran and the US which stalled while Raisi has taken office.
Israel strongly opposes the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and doesn’t want Washington to return to it under Joe Biden’s presidency.
Last month, Bennett met with Biden in the White House and discussed Iran. Biden told the Israeli PM that if diplomatic negotiations failed regarding Iran’s nuclear deal then Washington was prepared with other options.
Israeli diplomats said Bennett presented Biden with what Tel Aviv officials described as a “death by a thousand cuts” strategy against Iran.