The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has told the United Nations nuclear watchdog that his country would prefer a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme, but could take independent action, reiterating a longstanding veiled threat to launch a preemptive war.
The warning to visiting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi followed calls by Western powers on the IAEA Board of Governors to rebuke Tehran for failing to answer questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites.
That dispute has further clouded so-far fruitless attempts by negotiators to resurrect a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former United States President Donald Trump quit in 2018.
Since Washington’s walkout, Iran – which says its nuclear designs are peaceful – has stepped up uranium enrichment, a process that could produce fuel for bombs.
Bennett “stressed (to Grossi) the importance of the IAEA Board of Governors delivering a clear and unequivocal message to Iran in its upcoming decision”, a statement from Bennett’s office said.
“While it prefers diplomacy in order to deny Iran the possibility of developing nuclear weapons, Israel reserves the right to self-defence and action against Iran to stop its nuclear programme if the international community fails to do so within the relevant time-frame,” it added without elaborating.
There was no immediate comment from Grossi’s office.
On Thursday, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, told Norway’s NRK that Israel “can only attack Iran in its dreams”.
“And if they do have such a dream, they will never wake up from it,” Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted Bagheri Kani, who is on an official visit to Norway, as saying.
Iran blames Israel for a long-running assassination campaign targeting military figures and scientists involved in Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Israel has declined to comment on such accusations. But… with this saga coming so close to an end, it can be concluded by saying that if the United States fails to reach a nuclear deal that will ensure Iran has no nuclear military capability, Israel and its partners in the region will have no choice but to solve the Iranian problem in the least sympathetic way Israel knows and can.