The world must pressure Iran to stop advancing its nuclear program in the absence of a deal, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday, in a briefing to ambassadors from 80 countries.
“We are in a race against time,” Gantz warned.
Since August, Gantz said, “Iran increased its 60% enriched uranium from 10 kg to 50 kg. It continues to bury its [nuclear] means in underground hiding places and installed another cascade in Fordow.”
In contrast to the deal that was being negotiated in Vienna, Gantz said that a good nuclear agreement would be “an agreement that doesn’t have an expiration date that gives Iran legitimacy to advance its nuclear program when it ends, with extensive monitoring everywhere at any time and monitoring the ballistic missiles Iran is developing.”
If there is no agreement, he said, the world must “enact Plan B: Use force, use economic pressure, use diplomatic pressure.”
Gantz spoke about the wave of terrorism in Israel in recent weeks, presenting the operation by the Shin Bet and IDF to stop a terrorist cell coming from Jenin over the weekend.
The defense minister showed the ambassadors a Facebook post by another would-be terrorist stopped by Israel.
“Israel will continue to act forcefully against terrorism and will make every effort to separate terrorists from civilians,” he stated.
Gantz also presented the confidence-building steps Israel has taken with the Palestinian Authority in the past year since Operation Guardian of the Walls – allowing more workers into Israel, among other steps – and called on the world to donate more to the Palestinian Authority in order to contribute to stability and strengthen moderates.
In addition, Lapid gave an overview of “the steps Israel is taking to allow freedom of religion during the holidays,” the Foreign Ministry said, referring to the Muslim month of Ramadan, which coincides with Passover this year.
Lapid spoke about the Negev Summit he arranged between himself, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of four Arab states last week.
“The Negev Summit is the correct model for regional cooperation to fight terror and strengthen diplomatic relations that will ensure regional stability,” he said.
The foreign minister emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in security and economics.
In addition, Lapid and Gantz repeated their condemnation of war crimes by Russia in Bucha, Ukraine, and gave an overview of the humanitarian aid Israel has sent to Ukraine, as well as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s mediation efforts.