TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday accused Iran of “lying this whole time” and taking a “significant step” toward producing a nuclear weapon after news that Tehran had violated the terms set under the 2015 nuclear deal and exceeded its enriched uranium limit.
“When we exposed the secret Iranian nuclear archive [in April 2018], we proved that any nuclear agreement with Iran is built on one big lie. Now even Iran acknowledges this,” Netanyahu said at an event honoring Israeli reservists. “Soon will be revealed additional proofs that Iran has been lying this whole time.”
In addition to Iran’s announcement that it has a stockpile of more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, the Islamic republic also threatened to further increase enrichment in the direction of weapons-grade levels by July 7 unless a deal with European leaders is signed.
The “actions of the Europeans have not been enough, so the Islamic Republic will move ahead with its plans as it has previously announced,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said. “We are in the process of doing our first phase of actions both on increasing our stockpile of enriched uranium as well as our heavy water reserves.”
Netanyahu repeated his vow to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and called on Europe to stick to its commitments under the deal.
“I again call on all the European countries: Uphold your commitment. You committed to act the moment Iran violated the nuclear agreement. You committed to imposing the automatic sanctions set out by the [UN] Security Council. Then I say to you: Do it. Just do it,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt expressed London’s concern over Iran’s announcement.
“Deeply worried by Iran’s announcement that it has broken existing nuclear deal obligations,” Hunt wrote on Twitter.
“UK remains committed to making deal work (and) using all diplomatic tools to deescalate regional tensions. I urge Iran to avoid any further steps away from JCPOA (nuclear deal and) come back into compliance,” he added.
The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had breached the limit set by the Obama-led deal.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Iran to address any disputes or issues through the mechanisms established in the terms of the deal, his spokesman said.
Russia expressed “regret” over Iran’s announcement, but said it was a natural consequence of “unprecedented pressure” from the U.S.
“(This) of course is a cause for regret but one mustn’t dramatize the situation,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said.
“It should be understood as the natural consequence of the events which have gone before,” he said.
President Donald Trump, who withdrew from the deal last year, reacted to Iran’s announcement with a thinly-veiled threat.
“They know what they’re doing, they know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire,” Trump said.
The White House also condemned Iran’s decision.“It was a mistake under the Iran nuclear deal to allow Iran to enrich uranium at any level,” a statement read. “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”
“The United States and its allies will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons,” the statement said.