Netanyahu Accuses Iran of Breaching Commitments as Inspectors Expelled

A nuclear research reactor at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

In a stern response to Iran’s recent expulsion of multiple inspectors assigned to the country, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that Iran’s actions clearly demonstrate its disregard for international commitments. This move by Tehran has raised concerns about the oversight of its nuclear activities.

Netanyahu’s office released a statement in which he asserted that Iran’s intentions included arming itself with nuclear weapons, further exacerbating the already volatile situation. “Israel will take all necessary measures to safeguard itself from this looming threat,” Netanyahu emphasized.

Iran’s decision to expel inspectors comes in response to a joint call made by the United States, Britain, France, and Germany at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors meeting. The call urged Iran to immediately cooperate with the IAEA, particularly regarding the explanation of uranium traces discovered at undisclosed sites.

This move has intensified the longstanding tensions between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with overseeing Iran’s nuclear program. Western nations have long suspected that Iran’s program aims to develop nuclear weapons, although Iran consistently asserts that its intentions are purely peaceful.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the head of the IAEA, strongly criticized Iran for barring several experienced inspectors, effectively removing a significant portion of the agency’s core group designated for Iran. Grossi condemned this action as disproportionate and unprecedented, further straining the already troubled relationship between the IAEA and Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry justified the expulsion by accusing the United States and three European countries of attempting to exploit the agency for political purposes. These countries, including Britain, France, and Germany, had recently declared their intention to maintain sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani emphasized that Iran had previously warned about the consequences of such political maneuvers, highlighting their efforts to politicize the agency’s proceedings.

The IAEA had reported earlier that Iran had slowed its uranium enrichment activities, a move perceived as an attempt to ease tensions after years of confrontation with the United States. Negotiations between Iran and the U.S. were also ongoing, focusing on a prisoner exchange and the release of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea.

The 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Iran’s uranium enrichment in exchange for economic sanctions relief, had initially garnered international support. However, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018, leading to the reimposition of severe sanctions on Iran. In response, Iran began breaching the deal’s terms in 2019, and formal talks in Vienna to restore the agreement collapsed in August 2022.

While Iran continues to deny any ambitions for nuclear weapons, Grossi has cautioned that Tehran possesses sufficient enriched uranium for several nuclear bombs if it decides to build them. Nevertheless, constructing a weapon would likely take months, and Iran maintains that it abandoned its secret military nuclear program in 2003.

Grossi emphasized the vital role of effective cooperation, confidence, and trust in resolving the ongoing nuclear issue with Iran. The expulsion of these inspectors, he warned, hinders the agency’s ability to provide credible assurances that Iran’s nuclear activities are indeed peaceful.

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