Netanyahu: Iran’s 20% Enriched Uranium Proves It Seeks Nukes

In this April 9, 2018, file photo, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani listens to explanations on new nuclear achievements at a ceremony to mark "National Nuclear Day," in Tehran, Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged Monday, July 1, …
Iranian Presidency Office

Iran announced Monday it has begun enriching uranium up to 20 percent, far beyond the limits set out in the 2015 nuclear accords, a move which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said proved the Islamic Republic was seeking nuclear weapons.

He added Israel would not allow that to happen, saying:

Iran’s decision to continue violating its commitments, raise the level of enrichment and advance its industrial capacities for underground uranium enrichment can not be explained in any way other than the continued realization of its plans to develop a military nuclear program.

“I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu again affirmed.

Iran also seized a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker on Monday, semi-official Iranian news agencies reported, in order to “create environmental and chemical pollution in the Persian Gulf.”

The news that President Hassan Rouhani had given the order to achieve 20 percent uranium purity at the underground Fordo facility comes amid rising tensions with the U.S. a year after the assassination of top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani.

The Obama-led nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018, delineates an enrichment limit of 3.67 percent. Tehran has since moved to 4.5 percent.

The country last week informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its plans to enrich uranium at 20 percent.

On Monday morning, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the enrichment process had started a “couple of hours ago” at the Fordo site, the state-run IRNA said.

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to return to the deal.

Iran has repeatedly vowed to avenge the November killing of its nuclear weapons mastermind Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which it has blamed on Israel. Tehran has since passed a law calling for the production and storage of “at least 120 kilograms per year of 20 percent enriched uranium” and to “put an end” to the IAEA inspections at nuclear facilities.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday also said Israel would do everything to prevent Iran from obtaining an atom bomb.

“Iran is a challenge to the world, to the region and to the State of Israel. The defense establishment and all its organizations must continue tracking this matter, and the State of Israel cannot allow Iran to go nuclear and to be allowed to advance its other ambitions,” Gantz said.

“The entire world must step up its pressure, and we must ensure that the defense establishment has the resources needed so that we can be prepared to deal with Iran as necessary on all fronts. We are working with many partners on all fronts and we must continue this trend,” he added.

 

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