JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on European states to reimpose sanctions on Iran and said Israel will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
“We know exactly what is happening with the Iranian nuclear program. Iran thinks it can achieve nuclear weapons. I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“I also call on all Western countries to impose snapback sanctions at the UN now,” Netanyahu added, after Britain, France and Germany formally triggered a dispute mechanism over Iran’s repeated violations of the 2015 nuclear deal. The mechanism could be the first step towards the end of the nuclear agreement.
Iran has defied all limits on its production of enriched uranium, which is used to make nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic says it is entitled to violate the deal in response to heavy sanctions the United States has imposed on Tehran since Washington abandoned the deal in 2018.
The three European countries who are still a part of the agreement reject Iran’s argument. They urge Tehran to stop violating the limits on nuclear development. The dispute will be referred to a Joint Commission, which will have at least 15 days to resolve the issue.
If the dispute is not resolved, the European powers can refer it to the United Nations Security Council. The UN body could then vote to reimpose sanctions that were lifted under the deal.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Tuesday he had a “productive conversation” with Netanyahu “in which we discussed recent regional developments. As always, the US commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering.”
Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson said the US supports Britain, France, and Germany’s decision to trigger the dispute mechanism.
“We fully support the decision by the E3 to initiate the dispute resolution mechanism,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe further diplomatic and economic pressure is warranted by nations.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused European powers of jeopardizing the deal.
"The usage of the dispute mechanism is legally baseless and a strategic mistake from a political standpoint," said Zarif, and he warned of a “serious and strong response” to such action.
However, he also said Iran was “fully ready to answer any good will and constructive effort” that could salvage the nuclear deal.