Israel's Bennett tells IAEA to stop Iran nuclear weapons

Israel's Bennett tells IAEA to stop Iran nuclear weapons

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday that Israel was prepared to use its right to self defense to stop Iran's nuclear programme.

The comments came after IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi met Bennett Friday morning during a whirlwind visit.

Bennett's warning is a re-affirmation of Israel's vow to do whatever it takes to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. It comes with tensions over the stalled efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers aimed at preventing Iran from developing such a weapon.

In a statement, Bennett said that Israel prefers diplomacy but it reserves the right to self-defense and to action against Iran in order to block its nuclear programme if the international community does not succeed in the relevant time frame. Grossi's visit came after the global nuclear watchdog said it still had questions that were not clarified despite long-running efforts to get Iran to explain the presence of nuclear material at three undeclared sites.

The issue of the sites is one of the obstacles to reviving the 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

Experts consider Israel to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, though the country refuses to confirm or deny that it has such weapons.

Israel is opposed to the 2015 agreement, which it sees as a threat to its security.

In October, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that we must act if a terrorist regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon. He stated that Israel reserves the right to act at any moment in any way. The Israeli army held military exercises over the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea this week. Israeli media reported that the exercise simulated a wide-scale attack on Iran, including its nuclear facilities.

When questioned on Thursday by the AFP, the army did not comment on the nature of the drills, but confirmed that it prepares and trains continuously for several scenarios, including threats from Iran.