Iran's limits on UN nuclear inspections a 'threat': Israel

AFP , Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

'We will never allow Iran to control the capability to acquire a nuclear weapon,' Ashkenazi said

Gabi Ashkenazi
Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks during a joint news conference with his British counterpart Dominic Raab in Jerusalem August 25, 2020 REUTERS

Israel on Wednesday described Iran's move to restrict some site inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog as a "threat" that required a response.

Iran this week began limiting the International Atomic Energy Agency's access to sites and other information in response to the US refusal so far to lift sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump.

"Israel sees this step as a threat and it must not go by without response," Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a statement.

"We will never allow Iran to control the capability to acquire a nuclear weapon," he added.

Israel's government, led by right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was vehemently opposed to the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated between Tehran and world powers.

Netanyahu applauded when Trump scrapped the deal almost three years ago.

The Israeli leader has repeatedly urged US President Joe Biden not to restore the deal.

But Biden, European powers and Iran are still trying to keep the nuclear accord alive.

Tehran demands Washington take the first step by scrapping painful sanctions Trump had imposed since 2018, while Washington insists Iran first return to all its nuclear commitments, some of which it has backed away from.

Iran's parliament had set Sunday as the deadline to limit to some IAEA inspections, a move that took effect on Tuesday.

The IAEA and Iran agreed a temporary technical deal allowing the watchdog to "retain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification work", according to IAEA chief Rafael Grossi.

With inspections now restricted, Ashkenazi said that "Iran is destroying what remains of the IAEA's oversight."

Iran says its nuclear programme is civilian in nature.

Netanyahu alleges the Islamic republic is pursuing a nuclear weapon and insists this marks one of the gravest threats to the Jewish people since the Nazi Holocaust.

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