(June 6, 2018 / Israel Hayom) The decision by the United States to exit the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the subsequent decision by several large conglomerates to nix contracts with the Islamic republic has the ayatollahs’ regime in a panic, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday.
Lieberman, who was speaking at a conference hosted by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Israel in the southern resort city of Eilat, was commenting on Iran’s announcement that it would resume uranium enrichment.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Monday he has ordered the Atomic Energy Organization to increase the country’s nuclear enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers collapses. The increase detailed by Khamenei speech would not exceed limits set by the nuclear accord, which European countries have said they hope to salvage.
“There are clear signs of mass hysteria and panic among the Iranian leadership, especially after Peugeot announced it would be leaving Iran,” said Lieberman.
He was referring to a statement issued Monday by French auto giant PSA, which makes Peugeot and Citroen cars, saying it would pull out of two joint ventures to sell its cars in Iran to avoid the risk of U.S. sanctions.
Iran’s leaders, Lieberman explained, “fear that all [foreign] investors will leave the country. They are afraid of civil unrest. There haven’t been strikes in Iran since the time of [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini. Now there is economic unrest and rapid deterioration, which scares them.
“Iran is not an Israeli problem; it’s a regional and global problem,” he continued. “If the Iranians withdraw from the agreement, the Europeans will have no leeway. Iran is walking a fine line, trying to blackmail and threaten [the European Union].”
Commenting on the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria, Lieberman said: “We want both Iran and Hezbollah to leave. We will foil any attempt we identify to approach the fence with game-changing weapons.
“We won’t allow anyone to form a military front against us on the Golan Heights, regardless of whether it’s 40 or 80 kilometers from the border. All options against Iran are on the table,” he stressed.
Commenting on the threat posed by Hamas’s grid of terror tunnels, Lieberman said, “Our goal is that in 2019, six months from now, there will be no cross-border tunnels.”