Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated Israel’s position that it will never allow archenemy Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, as US President Donald Trump’s deadline for further Iranian concessions edged closer.
Trump has threatened to tear up the 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear activity, unless it curbs its ballistic missile program by May 12.
“Israel’s policy has not changed since Begin. Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told an audience of diplomats in a speech in Jerusalem, invoking the so-called Begin Doctrine, which calls on the Jewish state to destroy any enemy country’s nuclear capabilities.
The doctrine was named for prime minister Menachem Begin, who set its precedent by ordering the bombing of Iraq’s nascent nuclear reactor in 1981.
Last month, Israel finally acknowledged the second instance it applied that doctrine, admitting that its air force blew up a Syrian nuclear reactor in the area of Deir Ezzor in the pre-dawn hours of September 6, 2007, in a mission known to much of the world as Operation Orchard.
“This is why we opposed so resolutely the Iran deal, because it gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal,” Netanyahu said, speaking in English.
“It allows, over a few years, unlimited enrichment of uranium, the core ingredient required to produce nuclear bombs — and nothing else — and it also does not deal with the ballistic missiles that can deliver this weapon to many, many countries. This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed.”
Iran says it is ready to relaunch its nuclear program — which the West suspects is designed to produce a bomb — if Trump kills the deal.
Netanyahu said the 2015 agreement leaves Iran able to quickly reboot its nuclear program to enable military production.
“It gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal,” he said. “It allows, over a few years, unlimited enrichment of uranium, the core ingredient required to produce nuclear bombs.”
The United States delivered much the same message Monday, at a meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in Geneva.
Christopher Ford, US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, said the Islamic republic’s nuclear program remained “dangerously close to rapid weaponization.”
Iran insists it never intended to build a nuclear weapon.