Israel will 'not allow' nuclear-armed Iran: Netanyahu

Updated May 08, 2019

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Memorial Day ceremony in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl on May 8,2019. — AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Memorial Day ceremony in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl on May 8,2019. — AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear arms after the Islamic republic said it would abandon limits on its nuclear activities agreed in a 2015 deal.

“This morning on my way here I heard that Iran intends to continue its nuclear programme,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony on Israel's annual day of remembrance for its fallen soldiers and civilian victims of militant attacks.

“We shall not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said in Hebrew.

Netanyahu has been an outspoken opponent of Iran's landmark nuclear deal with major powers and was the leading supporter of United States President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from it and reimpose crippling economic sanctions last year.

Israel is considered the leading military power in the Middle East and is widely believed to possess its sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal.

On Wednesday, Tehran said it was ending curbs on its uranium enrichment stockpile agreed under the 2015 deal until other powers help it bypass the renewed US sanctions.

Russia

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Iran had been provoked into rolling back some of the terms of the deal due to pressure from the US, a year after Washington itself pulled out of the pact.

“President Putin has repeatedly spoken of the consequences of unthought-out steps regarding Iran and by that I mean the decision taken by Washington (to quit the deal). Now we are seeing those consequences are starting to happen,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Also read: Don’t make others’ lives harder: UK, France, Germany urge US

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Moscow for talks, said he could guarantee the nuclear deal's survival if the agreement's European signatories fulfilled their obligations, something he accused them of not doing.

“Russia and China fulfilled their obligations... but other parties, including the Europeans, have not been honouring their commitments,” said Zarif, saying his country's retreat from certain aspects of the deal was legal and could be reversed.

China

China also blamed the US and said that Washington has “further aggravated” tensions over the Iran nuclear issue.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday that China appreciated Iran's “strict implementation” of its 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from a year ago. He said China “calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint” and avoid escalating tensions.

UK

Britain warned that Tehran would face consequences if it backed away from its nuclear deal.

"We are extremely concerned about this announcement and urge Iran to continue to meet its commitments under the deal and not to take escalatory steps," British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said.

"This deal is a crucial agreement which makes the world safer and we will ensure it remains in place for as long as Iran upholds these commitments."

France

France's defence minister voiced deep concern over Iran's threat to resume higher enrichment of uranium, saying that the question of sanctions “will be raised” if the nuclear deal isn't respected.

Florence Parly has told BFMTV that "nothing would be worse than Iran leaving this deal". She said that "we (Europeans) absolutely want to keep this agreement alive."

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Berlin wants to keep the agreement alive, adding: "We as Europeans, as Germans, will play our part and we expect full implementation from Iran as well."