Netanyahu Calls Iran’s Enrichment Move a ‘Very, Very Dangerous Step’

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu points to a graph during the weekly Cabinet meeting in Yerushalayim, Sunday. (Abir Sultan/Pool via Reuters)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday an announced increase of uranium enrichment by Iran was an extremely dangerous move and he again called on Europe to impose punitive sanctions on Tehran.

Netanyahu made the remarks after Iran said it is fully prepared to enrich uranium at any level and with any amount, in further defiance of U.S. efforts to squeeze it with sanctions and force it to renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

In a news conference broadcast live, senior Iranian officials said Tehran, which has denied seeking nuclear arms, would keep reducing its commitments every 60 days unless signatories of the pact moved to protect it from U.S. sanctions.

“This is a very, very dangerous step,” Netanyahu said in public remarks to his Cabinet.

“Iran has violated its solemn promise under the U.N. Security Council not to enrich uranium beyond a certain level,” he said.

“I call on my friends, the heads of France, Britain and Germany – you signed this deal and you said that as soon as they take this step, severe sanctions will be imposed – that was the Security Council resolution. Where are you?” Netanyahu said.

If any one of the three European parties to the accord believe Iran has violated the agreement, they can trigger a dispute resolution process that could, within as few as 65 days, end at the U.N. Security Council with a reimposition of U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

The other remaining signatories, Russia and China, are allies of Iran and unlikely to make such a move.

“The enrichment of uranium is made for one reason and one reason only – it’s for the creation of atomic bombs,” said Netanyahu, a strong opponent of the 2015 agreement.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz accused Tehran of breaking internationally agreed limitations on its nuclear projects and moving towards a potential bomb.

“It means … that it is brushing off the red lines that were agreed [and] that it has begun its march, a march that is not simple, towards nuclear weaponry,” he told Yediot Acharonot.