Bennett to IAEA Sec-Gen: World must work together against Iran

Written by on June 3, 2022

The international community must prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency Secretary-General Rafael Grossi in Jerusalem on Friday.

“Israel prefers the diplomatic route to rule out any possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, but maintains the right to act against Iran to defend itself and stop its nuclear program if the international community fails to do so within a relevant amount of time,” Bennett stated.

The meeting took place in Jerusalem, days before an IAEA Board of Governors meeting, at which the US and the E3 – Great Britain, France and Germany – plan to push for the body to rebuke Iran following a report by Grossi that Iran has enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon and has not provided credible explanations for the IAEA’s findings of violations.

Bennett also released a Google Drive folder of documents earlier this week, showing that Iran stole IAEA documents in 2004 and 2005 in order to lie to the organization and cover up its nuclear activities. The documents come from the nuclear archive Israel smuggled out of Iran in 2018.

Bennett described to Grossi “the depth of the danger of Iran continuing to advance towards attaining a nuclear weapon while misleading the international community by using false information and lies.”

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)

“The prime minister emphasized the urgent need to enlist the international community for action against Iran, using all means to stop it from attaining a nuclear weapon,” the Israeli readout of the meeting states.

Bennett said he supports IAEA fulfilling its mission as a professional and independent body and said it is important for the Board of Governors to send Iran a sharp and clear message in its meeting, set for June 6.

Iran talks

The Western powers had hesitated to promote resolutions against Iran at the IAEA in recent years, in order to continue negotiations to have the US and Iran return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

However, despite significant progress, talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were derailed after Russia invaded Ukraine. They remained on hold in recent months, in part due to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s success in their effort to convince US President Joe Biden not to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. US President Joe Biden informed Bennett of the decision a month ago, but it became public last week.

Grossi’s visit to Israel also came as Israel has presented the Biden administration an alternative path forward in nuclear talks with Iran, a nuclear deal in which economic sanctions would be lifted, but not the restrictions on its nuclear program.

National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata raised the idea in his meetings with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan in Washington DC this week, and Israel plans to present it to the E3 as well. Bennett hopes to use Biden’s planned visit to Israel this month to convince him of the necessity to keep the pressure on Iran and to make this version of a deal the new objective.

The proposal entails a deal without the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s “sunset clauses,” which gradually lift restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.

Under the newly-proposed Israeli plan, the Iranians would receive sanctions relief as stipulated in the 2015 deal, if they accept the new version without a sunset clause.

Israel has proposed that, if Iran were to accept a new deal without lifting nuclear restrictions, it would include what is being described as a “tripwire” in the event that Iran would enrich uranium to 90 percent, the level needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran has already enriched uranium to 60%.

In that case, Israel would like to see the US commit to immediately imposing even more sanctions on Iran than it has on Russia in the wake of the war in Ukraine, what a senior Israeli official called “MOAB sanctions” – meaning “mother of all bombs.”

The Prime Minister’s Office denied the proposal.

“The Iranians are weaker than they seem.”

Senior Israeli defense official

“The Iranians are weaker than they seem,” a senior Israeli defense official explained this week. “They are more vulnerable than they are made out to be.”

The Islamic Republic has been hit with countrywide riots in recent weeks over rising food prices. In addition, protests broke out in southwest Iran after a building collapsed there, killing 31 people. An emissary sent to the site by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was shouted down by local protestors.

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