Gantz: Iran’s ‘blatant’ nuclear violations threaten Israel and global stability 

Source: Gantz: Iran’s ‘blatant’ nuclear violationthreaten Israel and global stability | The Times of Israel

Defense minister hails IAEA resolion criticizing Tehran for blocking inspector’s access to suspect sites; vows Iran will never get atomic weapons

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting of the new government at Chagall State Hall in the Knesset in Jerusalem on May 24, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Friday hailed the UN nuclear watchdog’s passing of a resolution criticizing Iran for not granting access to suspicious sites, saying that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions threatened Israel and global stability.

The resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors, the first of its kind since 2012, calls on Iran to grant inspectors access to two sites to determine whether undeclared nuclear activity took place there in the early 2000s.

In a statement applauding the move, Gantz accused Iran of violating the 2015 agreement between Tehran and world powers that curbed its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“We’ve known for years that Iran is concealing blatant violations of the nuclear deal with the intention of threatening both Israel and global stability,” Gantz said in a statement. “Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear capability and the international community is doing the right thing by insisting on effective inspections.”

The Foreign Ministry said the resolution “corroborates all of Israel’s claims regarding Iran’s continued covert nuclear activity.” It also noted the IAEA move came on the heels of a United Nations report saying Iran may have violated an arms embargo imposed on it as part of the UN Security Council anchoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Iran continues to systematically violate all international commitments it has signed and is working effortlessly to hide evidence and disrupt investigations in order to deceive the international community,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

It added: “The world must set a clear red line for Iran.”

Top Israeli officials have long accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Iranian leaders, who insist their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran has been blocking access to the sites flagged by the IAEA for months, prompting a growing diplomatic row.

Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Gharib Abadi, waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, November 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

The resolution was carried by 25 votes in favor versus two against, with seven abstentions. Russia and China, both of which had spoken out against the prospect of a resolution earlier this week, voted against.

It had been put forward by France, Germany and Britain and supported by the United States, even though the American ambassador to the UN in Vienna had said “the text could be strengthened.”

Iran’s Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Kazem Gharib Abadi told Friday’s meeting that the resolution will not “encourage Iran to grant access to the Agency based on fabricated and unfounded allegations.”

“Iran categorically deplores this resolution and will take appropriate action in response, the repercussions of which would be upon the sponsors of this resolution,” he added.

Even though the sites in question are not thought to be directly relevant to Iran’s current nuclear program, the agency says it needs to know if activities going back almost two decades have been properly declared and all materials accounted for.

Despite the row over the two sites, the IAEA says it still has the access it needs to inspect Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, as per its mandate under the 2015 nuclear accord.

However, the latest dispute comes as that deal further unravels, with Iran continuing to breach its limits on nuclear activity in retaliation to a US withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and renewed sanctions.

Iran has previously hinted that a resolution along the lines of the one passed Friday could cause “complication and difficulties” for the future of the 2015 accord, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In his statement, Gharib Abadi warned the IAEA against actions that could lead to “the destruction of the JCPOA.”

Director-general of International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, speaks before the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Speaking to reporters after the resolution was passed, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said it would be “absolutely unacceptable” if an example were to be set that states can be selective in their implementation of agreements with the UN agency.

“There are no exceptions. There is no Additional Protocol a la carte,” Grossi said, referring to the agreement under which the IAEA requested access to the sites.

“I intend to sit down with Iran very soon and to try to solve this as soon as possible,” he said, adding that Gharib Abadi would be his first port of call.

Iran this week argued that the IAEA’s access requests were based on allegations from Israel, which has flagged at least one site as a “secret atomic warehouse” and pressed the IAEA to investigate.

Additional information provided by the IAEA to back up its requests “were merely some commercial satellite imageries that contained no convincing underlying reason” to provide access, Tehran argued.

Also on Friday, the British Foreign Office said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would be meeting French and German counterparts in Berlin to discuss “a diplomatic solution to Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”

 

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