The International Atomic Energy Agency has begun to realize that Iran is lying about its nuclear ambitions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
“Iran continues to lie to the international community in order to attain nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu warned. “Today, the IAEA understands…what we have said for years.”
Netanyahu referred to the UN nuclear watchdog’s resolution adopted over the weekend, which he said “speaks for itself,” calling on Iran to cooperate with the agency and grant it access to suspected former nuclear sites.
Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said “Iran is first of all a problem for the world, then a regional problem, undermining the stability of the whole Middle East, and it is also a challenge for Israel.”
Gantz said “the security matters that stand out less in light of the challenges of coronavirus have not disappeared and they will return.”
The IAEA resolution, adopted by its 35-nation Board of Governors on Friday in a vote called after China expressed opposition to it, raised pressure on Iran to let inspectors into the sites mentioned in two International Atomic Energy Agency reports because they could still host undeclared nuclear material or traces of it.
The text of the resolution submitted by France, Britain and Germany and obtained by Reuters said the board “calls on Iran to fully cooperate with the Agency and satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency.”
Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers drew a line under what the IAEA and US intelligence services believe was a covert, coordinated atomic weapons program halted in 2003. But Israel’s 2018 seizure of an archive of Iran’s past work appears to have yielded new clues on old activities.
The IAEA suspects activities possibly related to developing nuclear weapons were carried out in the early 2000s at these sites. Iran has suggested the IAEA is seeking access based on the Israeli information, which it argues is inadmissible. It also says the IAEA file on its old activities has been closed.
The resolution, the first by the board since 2015 and the implementation of the nuclear deal, was passed by a 25-2 margin with seven abstentions, diplomats said.
Iran’s allies China and Russia opposed the measure while South Africa, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Mongolia, Azerbaijan and Niger abstained.
“I think the pronouncement has been clear,” IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters. “I intend to sit down with Iran very soon and to try to solve this as soon as possible. I start with the ambassador here…and then we will see,” he added.