Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday warned the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Israel was ready to use its “right to self-defense” to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
The remarks came after IAEA chief Rafael Gracie met with Bennett during a whirlwind tour on Friday morning.
Bennett’s warning is a reiteration of Israel’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Tensions have risen between Iran and world powers over stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which aims to prevent Iran from developing such weapons.
Bennett said in a statement that he made clear that Israel prefers diplomacy, but that “the international community reserves the right to defend itself and take action against Iran for blocking its nuclear program if it does not succeed within the relevant time frame.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday that despite long-standing attempts to explain to Iran the presence of nuclear material in three undeclared locations, it still had questions that came after Grossi’s visit.
The site issue is one of the remaining obstacles to reviving the 2015 agreement, which freed Iran from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for hampering its nuclear activities.
Experts consider Israel to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although the country refuses to confirm or deny whether it has such weapons.
Iran has always denied seeking a nuclear bomb.
Israel vehemently opposes the 2015 agreement, which it considers a threat to its security.
In October, Israeli Foreign Minister Yar Lapid said, “If a terrorist government is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must take action.” He added that Israel “reserves the right to act in any way at any time.”
This week, the Israeli army conducted military exercises in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Israeli media reported that the exercise mimicked a large-scale attack on Iran, including its nuclear facilities.
Asked by AFP on Thursday, the military did not comment on the nature of the exercise, but confirmed that it was “constantly prepared and training in various situations, including the Iranian threat.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)