Netanyahu: ‘We Shouldn’t Go Back to Business as Usual with Iran’

PM Netanyahu and US National security Adviser Robert O’Brien. Photo Courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

With the Iran looking at again expanding its nuclear program, and given projected United States President Joe Biden’s support for the failed Iran nuclear deal in the background, Israel on Sunday issued a warning on the global approach to Iran.

“As long as Iran continues to subjugate and threaten its neighbors; as long as Iran continues calling for Israel’s destruction; as long as Iran continues to bankroll, equip and train terrorist organizations throughout the region and the world; and as long as Iran persists in its dangerous quest for nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, we shouldn’t go back to business as usual with Iran,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in comments published by his office.

The Israeli advice on Iran comes as Biden is poised to replace US President Donald Trump on January 20. Biden was vice president when former-US President Barack Obama signed the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The accord relaxed sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran reigning in their nuclear program. However, as Iran reaped the financial benefits of the deal, they also battled for regional supremacy by backing the Syrian regime, arming rebels in Yemen, funding terror groups, and more. That experience has Israel wary of what Biden may do as US president.

Netanyahu, speaking with visiting US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, celebrated the steps President Trump has taken to curb Iran’s nefarious deeds. “Both Israelis and Arabs praised President Trump when he pulled out of the failed Iran nuclear agreement, when he re-imposed and beefed up tough sanctions on Iran, when he took out the Iranian arch terrorist, Qasem Soleimani,” said Netanyahu.

“When Israelis and Arabs agree on so many things, it makes sense for the world to pay attention. After all, we live in this region. We know something about it.”

Israel isn’t the only country sounding the alarm on Iran right now. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday highlighted prospective legislation in Iran to again enrich uranium to what Pompeo called the “dangerous 20% level”, a step closer to what’s needed for nuclear weapons. Prior to the limits accepted by Iran under the JCPOA, Tehran was enriching nuclear fuel to the 20% level, which is in excess of what’s needed for nuclear energy but is ostensibly done for medical research. Pompeo doubts that’s the intent.

“Iran has provided no credible technical rationale for why it needs to move precipitously to enrich uranium to that level for any peaceful purpose,” said Pompeo in a statement published by the State Department, noting the enrichment “would constitute a serious escalation that moves Iran closer to the ability to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Pompeo noted that Iran is already violating the JCPOA nuclear restrictions on research, enrichment and the size of its nuclear fuel stockpile.

“The international community must not reward the regime’s dangerous gamesmanship with economic appeasement.  If the Iranian regime seeks sanctions relief and economic opportunity, then it must first demonstrate that it is serious about fundamentally changing its behavior,” said Pompeo.

Among the steps he said Iran needs to take are “ceasing its nuclear extortion and negotiating a comprehensive deal that addresses its development of ballistic missiles and its support for terrorism, unjust detention, and other destabilizing activities in the region” as well as improving its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Said Pompeo, “The international community has been clear that Iran must begin to fully cooperate with the IAEA without further delay.  Failure to do so should not be met with concessions from the international community, but rather with continued diplomatic and economic pressure and isolation of the Iranian regime.”

Netanyahu noted that President Trump took that very approach to Iran.

“Instead of coddling the tyrants in Tehran, President Trump has adopted the policy of maximum pressure. This is a policy that I have to say is widely supported across the Middle East,” said Netanyahu.

If the world doesn’t keep up the pressure, Netanyahu said the world will face an unprecedented threat from Iran.

“We should all unite to prevent this major threat to world peace. I say world peace because today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is still a nasty neighborhood bully. But, if unchecked, tomorrow Iran will arm itself with nuclear tipped ICBMs that can target Europe and America and it will become a global bully, which will endanger everyone,” said the Israeli leader.

“All this must be prevented and all this can be prevented.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 13, 2020)

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