Iran’s financing and support for terror proxies is the foremost cause of instability in the Middle East, and the country’s nuclear program could spark a regional arms race, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday.

Gantz, who is on a two-day visit to New York City, met on Monday with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and also held a briefing for Security Council ambassadors and representatives of signatories to the Abraham Accords, according to a statement from his office.

“I am here because I believe that together we can prevent it—and the time to act is now,” he told the diplomats. “Iranian regional and global terror—whether it comes from Iran proper or via well-funded proxies—threatens our economies, energy resources, food security, trade, freedom of navigation and overall peace and stability. This will only worsen if Iran has a ‘nuclear umbrella.’”

The defense minister said that Israeli intelligence had confirmed that Iran is plowing ahead with its nuclear program.

“Over the past year, Iran has steadily increased its production of hundreds of centrifuges, which will enable enrichment to high levels. In fact, according to our assessments, in the past year the number of advanced centrifuges has more than doubled in the underground facilities of Natanz and Fordow. Iran is not only advancing in its capabilities, but also in its rate of production,” he said.

“At the Fordow underground site—where I remind you that the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear agreement] prohibits activities—Iran’s enrichment rate has tripled in the last year. The international community must unite. We need powerful and decisive action,” he added.

 
JNS

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