Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israeli efforts had put a nuclear bomb out of Iran’s reach for the time being, a day after the implementation of the landmark accord and the removal of sanctions from the Islamic Republic was announced.
“If it weren’t for our efforts leading the way in enforcing the sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran would have had a nuclear weapon long ago,” the prime minister said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“Israel’s position is, and remains exactly as it has always been — to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. What’s clear is that Iran will now turn its resources toward its terrorist activity in the region and rest of the world, and Israel is prepared to handle that threat,” he said.
The premier, who has been perhaps the most vocal opponent of the deal on the global stage, reiterated remarks he made in a statement on Saturday evening, and called on world powers to reinstate “severe” sanctions on Iran if it breaches the terms of the nuclear agreement.
Netanyahu said that Israel would continue to monitor the implementation of the deal and would notify the international community of any Iranian violations.
On Saturday, Netanyahu warned that “without an appropriate response to every violation, Iran will surmise that it can continue to develop nuclear weapons, to destabilize the region and to spread terrorism.” Israel, he said, “will do everything it takes to maintain its security and defend itself.”
Earlier on Saturday, an Israeli official said that Iran’s first priority once the deal is implemented would be to spend its newly freed-up funds on military acquisitions, and not on civilian investments, Army Radio reported. Furthermore, the unnamed source said, the implementation of the agreement would have a direct impact on the region, as terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas — both recipients of Iranian largesse — would find themselves in possession of new and modern weaponry.
“The world powers are mistaken if they see Iran as a solution to regional stability, and not the source of the problem,” a second unnamed official said, according to the radio.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.