Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday said Iran has crossed all nuclear “red lines” and vowed to stop the country from acquiring nuclear weapons — even if it means Israel must act alone.
“Iran's nuclear weapons program is at a critical point. All red lines have been crossed,” Bennett said in his first speech to the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly, according to Reuters.
“Iran's nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance. Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning,” Bennett added, vowing that Israel “will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Bennett’s strong rebuke of Iran comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations nuclear watchdog, released a statement that said Iran is failing to comply with its nuclear monitoring deal, which was agreed to earlier this month.
Top officials at the IAEA and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran reached an agreement earlier this month to allow the inspectors from the watchdog to “service the identified equipment and replace their storage media which will be kept under the joint IAEA and AEOI seals in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
According to the IAEA, however, Iran did not allow inspectors to access its manufacturing workshop at the TESA Karaj complex.
Bennett on Monday said Iran is seeking to control the Middle East under a “nuclear umbrella” and called on the international community to come together to stop Iran’s nuclear efforts.
“Iran’s great goal is crystal clear to anybody who cares to open their eyes: Iran seeks to dominate the region — and seeks to do so under a nuclear umbrella,” Bennett said, according to The Associated Press.
“If we put our heads to it, if we're serious about stopping it, if we use our resourcefulness, we can prevail,” he added, according to Reuters.
Bennett also criticized Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, calling him the “butcher of Tehran” for his previous involvement in clamping down on political dissent, according to the AP. He also accused Iran of funneling money to Iran’s enemies in the area in addition to training and arming them.
Raisi last week called for nuclear talks to restart in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly. He had previously signaled that the country was ready to rejoin conversations on nuclear negotiations but said he would like to do so without “pressure” from Western countries.
Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, shot back at Bennett, contending that his speech was “full of lies on Iran.”
He also said that “Iran-phobia runs rampant at UN.”
Iran-phobia runs rampant at UN. The Israeli regime PM’s speech was full of lies on Iran. That regime is in no position to discuss our peaceful program when it has hundreds of nuclear warheads. And his silence on Palestine illustrates a determination to deprive Palestinian rights.— Majid Takht Ravanchi (@TakhtRavanchi) September 27, 2021
Bennett was elevated to the role of prime minister in June, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year reign as the leader of the country.
Bennett cobbled together a power-sharing government made up of a number of Israeli parties that coalesced around the idea of removing Netanyahu. The parties, however, are still at odds over a number of policy issues.