Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Israel prefers diplomacy on Iran but could act alone

Israel told the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Friday that it would prefer a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme but could take independent action, reiterating a long-standing veiled threat to launch preemptive war. The warning to visiting International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi followed calls by Western powers on the IAEA Board of Governors to rebuke Tehran for failing to answer questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “stressed (to Grossi) the importance of the IAEA Board of Governors delivering a clear and unequivocal message to Iran in its upcoming decision”, a statement from Bennett’s office said. “While it prefers diplomacy in order to deny Iran the possibility of developing nuclear weapons, Israel reserves the right to self-defence and action against Iran to stop its nuclear programme if the international community fails to do so within the relevant time-frame,” it added without elaborating. (https://whtc.com/2022/06/03/israel-prefers-diplomacy-on-iran-but-could-act-alone-bennett-tells-iaea-chief/) That dispute has further clouded so-far fruitless attempts by negotiators to resurrect a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former U.S. President Donald Trump quit in 2018. Since Washington’s walkout, Iran – which says its nuclear designs are peaceful – has stepped up uranium enrichment, a process that could produce fuel for bombs. There was no immediate comment from Grossi’s office. Israel’s advanced military, widely assumed to have nuclear weapons, this week signalled strategic reach by going public with an air force strike exercise over the Mediterranean Sea and the rare deployment of a naval submarine to the Red Sea.

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