Israel steps up defense of nuclear facilities amid Iran threats

Head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission tells International Atomic Energy Agency Iran's “outrageous threats” force Israel “to take action to defend its nuclear facilities” • Zeev Snir says current turmoil in Middle East requires “global attention.”

View of the nuclear reactor in Dimona in southern Israel. Aug. 13, 2016. Photo by Moshe Shai/Flash90.
View of the nuclear reactor in Dimona in southern Israel. Aug. 13, 2016. Photo by Moshe Shai/Flash90.

Israel has stepped up security at its nuclear facilities, head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and Israel’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency Zeev Snir said in an unusual statement on Tuesday during the IAEA’s 62nd General Conference.

“The covert Iranian nuclear-weapons program is a documented fact. The new information recently revealed by Israel conclusively proves that Iranian activities were part of a well-orchestrated plan to continue the development of nuclear weapons,” said Snir.

“The IAEA Board of Governors has unfortunately closed, within the context of the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran] the agenda item on the so-called ‘Iranian Possible Military Dimensions.’ In light of these destabilizing elements, we cannot ignore the repeated and explicit threats made by Iran and its proxies to attack Israel’s nuclear sites,” he said.

“These outrageous threats require Israel to take action and continue to protect and defend its nuclear facilities. These facilities are constantly upgraded and reinforced, in line with IAEA safety guidelines, in order to withstand any attack.”

Snir said that “Israel has been an active member of the agency since its establishment in 1957. Israel commits its best human capital to its activities with the IAEA, and benefits from the expertise and knowledge possessed by the agency.”

The 62nd General Conference of the IAEA took place just ahead of Yom Kippur, which began on Tuesday evening. In his speech, Snir stressed the holiness of the day to Jews worldwide as a time of introspection and reflection.

“During this time of year, we think about what must be changed for us to live in peace. It is in this spirit of reflection, that I convey my concern over the unrest in the Middle East. The continuing turmoil in the region threatens peace and security worldwide, and demands global attention,” he said.

“Israel has repeatedly expressed its willingness to collaborate with all of its neighbors on safety and security issues. Unfortunately, however, the State of Israel is not even recognized by several states in the Middle East. Specifically and regrettably, the Islamic Republic of Iran openly and explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction,” he pointed out, adding that “Iran and Syria pose significant proliferation threats to the region and the world.”

“Syria built an undeclared, secretive military nuclear reactor at Deir ez-Zor. Such concealment of illicit activities is a clear violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Syria’s safeguards obligations. The IAEA and the international community should have taken action 10 years ago, and must take action now,” said Snir.

“We heard from the Iranian delegation [Monday] about the importance of keeping the JCPOA alive. We must all remember, however, that the JCPOA was conceived because of repeated Iranian violations of its international obligations under the NPT. There is no other country in the world with a JCPOA. Iran is the only country with such an agreement, specifically because of these violations, and because it threatens regional peace and security.

“For years, even prior to the JCPOA, Israel has presented Iran’s long-term vision to acquire military nuclear capabilities,” continued Snir. “Israel has repeatedly underlined the importance of confronting Iran with its lies and concealment efforts. The IAEA must conduct a robust verification of Iran’s clandestine activities.”

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