Iran calls on nuclear watchdog to ignore 'Israeli pressure'

Prime Minister Yair Lapid says Israel is conducting a successful diplomatic campaign to stop the nuclear agreement

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid thanked the UK, Germany and France for their 'strong position' on Iran during a meeting with his Cabinet in Jerusalem. EPA
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Iran has urged the UN nuclear watchdog "not to yield to Israel's pressure" over its nuclear activities.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday the country was ready to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The watchdog's board of governors were to meet on Monday, three months after adopting a resolution urging Tehran to give credible answers to its investigations into uranium traces at three sites in Iran.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid arrived in Germany to try to persuade western powers not to revive the nuclear deal with Iran.

His visit comes as Israeli official said on Sunday the country does not expect a renewal of the deal with world powers before the US midterm elections in November.

Israel has long opposed a revival of the 2015 accord, from which the US president at the time, Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Germany, France and the UK on Saturday raised “serious doubts” about Iran's sincerity in restoring the deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Mr Lapid thanked the three countries for the “strong position” during a meeting with his Cabinet before flying to Berlin.

Iran's nuclear programme — in pictures

The European nations said Tehran “has chosen not to seize this critical diplomatic opportunity”.

“Instead, Iran continues to escalate its nuclear programme way beyond any plausible civilian justification”, the statement said.

Iran's foreign ministry criticised those comments as “unconstructive”.

“Israel is conducting a successful diplomatic campaign to stop the nuclear agreement and prevent the lifting of sanctions on Iran," Mr Lapid said.

“It is not over yet. There is still a long way to go, but there are encouraging signs.”

New strategy

A senior Israeli official told AFP: “Our understanding is that there will be no return to the JCPOA at least until mid-November. We are working with our partners to develop a new strategy.

“It's important to continue to co-ordinate positions and to influence the European position. Germany has an important role in this.”

Mr Lapid is scheduled to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before returning to Israel late Monday.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in return for restricting its nuclear programme.

Negotiations under way in Vienna since April 2021 have sought to restore the agreement by lifting the sanctions on Tehran and pushing Iran to fully honour its prior nuclear commitments.

Israel insists Iran would use revenue from sanctions relief to bolster allied groups capable of attacking Israelis, notably Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two leading Palestinian militant organisations.

Last month, the EU, which acts as the mediator of the nuclear talks, put forward a “final” draft of the agreement.

Iran and the US then took turns to respond to the text, with Washington saying on Friday that Tehran's reply was a step “backwards”.

Mr Lapid, whose late father survived the Holocaust, is also travelling with a delegation of survivors who will join him and Mr Scholz on a visit to Wannsee, site of a 1942 conference where top Nazi officials finalised plans to send Jews to death camps.

Updated: September 12, 2022, 8:33 AM
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