Flagrant violation

To add insult to injury, Zarif said Tehran plans to further enrich uranium above 3.67% if European countries fail to salvage the Iran deal.

By
July 2, 2019 20:42
3 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting with

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting with Muslim leaders and scholars in Hyderabad, India, February 15, 2018. (photo credit: DANISH SIDDIQUI/ REUTERS)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif confirmed on Monday that his country had exceeded the 300-kg. limit for enriched uranium set by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, openly violating the nuclear pact reached between the world superpowers and Iran.

To add insult to injury, Zarif said Tehran plans to further enrich uranium above 3.67% if European countries fail to salvage the Iran deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said Tehran had indeed breached the limit, marking the first official confirmation that Iran was breaking the landmark agreement a year after the US unilaterally pulled out of it.

After such a blatant violation by Iran, now is the time for other signatories to the deal to follow Washington’s example and withdraw from it, and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The signatories are known as the P5+1: the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Iran to honor its commitments under the 2015 deal, and UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the remaining signatories – which include Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – are seeking ways to save the deal and deliver the sanctions relief they had promised Iran.

But, he stressed, breaching the uranium limit would not help secure Iran “economic benefits.”

US President Donald Trump responded harshly to the Iranian violation, which reinforced his decision last month to step up economic sanctions again Tehran.

Asked if he had a message for Iran, Trump said, “No message to Iran. They know what they’re doing. They know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire.”

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt came closest to hinting that his country might consider a withdrawal from the Iran deal.

Hunt said Britain wants to preserve the pact “because we don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but if Iran breaks that deal then we are out of it as well.”

Here in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged European countries to stand behind their commitments under the deal and impose new sanctions on Iran.

“Today, I again call on all the European countries: Uphold your commitment,” Netanyahu said. “You committed to act the moment Iran violated the nuclear agreement. You committed to imposing the automatic sanctions set out by the Security Council. Then I say to you: ‘Do it. Just do it!’”

Israel is justifiably concerned by the international response to Iran’s violation of the deal. Besides being threatened by Iranian proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, a senior Iranian lawmaker on Monday threatened that Israel would be the first to be targeted if Washington takes military action against the Islamic Republic.

“If the US attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Netanyahu said Israel would not be deterred by such threats.

“I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons,” he said, without elaborating.

In rare public comments, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said on Monday that Iran was behind recent attacks on oil facilities and ships in the Persian Gulf as well as one on Bahrain’s embassy in Baghdad – and accused Tehran of trying “to start a fire” in the Middle East by destabilizing the region.

“I say to you, with certainty, based on the best sources of both Israeli and Western espionage, that Iran is behind these attacks,” Cohen told the IDC Herzliya Conference. “They were approved by the Iranian leadership and carried out, in large part, by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies.”

Cohen dismissed any possibility that Iran is interested in a diplomatic dialogue with the West over its nuclear program.

“Iran is pulling in the opposite direction,” he said.

Israel – and the rest of the world – should heed Cohen’s clear warning. If the international community does not take strong action against Iran’s violation of the nuclear accord, we will all suffer the consequences.


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