Israeli Prime Minister: World Powers Must “Wake Up” to Iran Nuclear Deal
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday opened his first cabinet meeting since his new coalition government was sworn in last week with a condemnation of the new Iranian president. He said the Iranian presidential election was a sign for world powers to “wake up” before returning to a nuclear deal with Tehran.
Iranian justice chief Ebrahim Raisi was elected on Saturday with 62% of the vote against a background of historically low turnout. He is sanctioned by the United States in part for his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, at the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Raisi did not specifically comment on the event.
Bennett said at the Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that “of all the people that (Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei could have chosen, he chose the executioner of Tehran, the infamous man among Iranians and around the world for leading the death committees that have executed thousands of innocent Iranian citizens over the years.
Iran and world powers were due to resume indirect talks in Vienna on Sunday to resurrect Tehran’s tattered 2015 nuclear deal, which granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
For weeks, Iranian and American diplomats have been negotiating a return to the agreement in the Austrian capital through European intermediaries.
Sunday’s talks are the first since Raisi’s election, which will put extremists firmly in control of the Iranian government.
The historic nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which Israel opposed, collapsed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018. The move saw the Iran, over time, abandon any limitation on enrichment and Tehran is currently enriching uranium. at its highest levels ever, although still below weapon quality levels.
Bennett said Raisi’s election to the Iranian presidency was “the last chance for world powers to wake up before going back to the nuclear deal and figuring out who they are dealing with.”
“These guys are murderers, mass murderers: a regime of brutal executioners must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will allow it to kill not thousands, but millions,” he said. .
Israel has long said it opposes the nuclear program of Iran’s nemesis and said it will prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Earlier this month, Israel’s outgoing Mossad intelligence chief reported that Israel was behind a series of recent attacks targeting the country’s nuclear program.
Bennett heads a broad coalition of parties ranging from ultra-nationalist Jews to liberal factions and a small Islamist party. His government has called its first cabinet meeting since taking the oath of office last week, ousting longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office and sending him into opposition for the first time in 12 years.