Netanyahu to US Iran envoy: Some things can’t wait until after coronavirus

“We have very important topics to discuss, even ones that can’t wait until after corona,” Netanyahu said.

Title: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, June 30, 2020 (Credit: Ziv Sokolov/US Embassy Jerusalem)
More sanctions are needed to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, Prime  Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting with US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook on Tuesday.
“I believe it’s time to implement snapback sanctions,” Netanyahu said. “I don’t think we can afford to wait. We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon, because then it will be too late for sanctions.”
The US envoy was in Israel as the two countries have been working closely together to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires on October 18. The embargo was part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Though the US withdrew from the agreement in 2018, officials in US President Donald Trump’s administration, including Hook, have said the US would use its veto-proof “snapback sanctions” mechanism to extend the arms embargo indefinitely.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave an address urging the UN Security Council to extend the sanctions later on Tuesday.
Hook said Israel and the US “see eye to eye” on extending the arms embargo.
“In four short months, Iran will be able to freely import fighter jets, attack helicopters, warships, submarines, large-caliber artillery systems and missiles of certain ranges,” he said. “Iran will then be in a position to export these weapons and their technologies to their proxies, such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, [Shi’ite] militia groups in Iraq, Syria militant networks in Bahrain and to the Houthis in Yemen.”
Hook mentioned his previous stops on his current Middle East trip, in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, which have also called to extend the embargo.
“Iran wants to be treated like a normal country,” Netanyahu said. “It should behave like a normal country [and not] deliberately deceive the international community. It lies all the time... It continues its secret program to develop nuclear weapons... Iran denies access to the IAEA inspectors to important sites, some of which we have uncovered through our own activities. It continues its rampant aggression across the Middle East and beyond that arms, trains, finances and dispatches terrorists.”
Netanyahu lamented that “most of the international community is doing nothing,” and even worse, it is colluding with Iran. He thanked Trump and his administration for taking action.
Israel will continue to take steps against Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the region, as well as its nuclear ambitions, Netanyahu said.
“I say to the ayatollahs in Tehran: Israel will continue to take the actions necessary to prevent you from creating another terror and military front against Israel in Syria, and I say to [Syrian President] Bashar Assad: You’re risking the future of your country and your regime,” he said.
Netanyahu also referred to remarks by Alternate Prime Minister  Benny Gantz a day earlier that “whatever isn’t connected to fighting coronavirus will wait until after the virus, period.”
“We have very important topics to discuss, even ones that can’t wait until after corona,” Netanyahu said.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also met with Hook.
“Israel warned for years about Iran’s violation of the embargo,” Ashkenazi said, adding that Iran “never hesitated to use military and terror tools to advance its political goals.”
Ashkenazi called on members of the UN Security Council to “wake up and support the American initiative to continue the embargo.”
On Tuesday, in a video conference entitled Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Pompeo called on the Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
“The council must hold Iran accountable, and we all have the chance to do so,” he said in reference to the October 18 expiration date for the embargo.
“The previous American administration” negotiated a “flawed nuclear deal,” Pompeo said, adding that the UNSC has a choice, either to stand for international peace and security, as the United Nation’s founders intended, or “let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire, betraying the UN’s mission and its finest ideals.”
Israel and the Gulf states see Iran as a threat, Pompeo said.
“Nearly all countries have arms for defensive purposes and to promote stability, but not the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. “Don’t just take it from me or from the United States. Listen to countries in the region from Israel to the Gulf countries in the Middle East who are most exposed to Iran’s predations [and] are speaking with a single voice: Extend the arms embargo. This council has a responsibility to listen to them.”
Last November, Pompeo said, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “When the embargo is lifted next year, we can easily buy and sell weapons.” He told his peers they should take him at his word.
“If you fail to act, Iran will be free to purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000-kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs,” Pompeo warned the council.