image Photo: Reuters

Israeli Nuclear Chief: Iran clearly pursuing bombs

The latest warning was delivered at the 66th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

“It is now clear that Iran conducted a military nuclear program, gaining technology and knowledge, aimed to produce elements for a nuclear weapon device,” Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission Director General Moshe Edri told those gathered.

Even though he acknowledged that “the Iranian nuclear weapon program has been under the investigation of the IAEA for many years,” Edri stressed that the Islamic Republic has been involved in its pursuit of atomic bombs “at many undeclared sites with the use of various nuclear materials.”

Edri, a retired Israel Air Force Brigadier General, who formerly served at the Defense Ministry as Directors of Special Means and Civil Defense, continued by emphasizing that neither Israel – nor the world – can accept a nuclear armed Iran.

“Iran, has continuously failed to provide credible explanations, or clarifications, regarding the nature of these past activities, and continues to deceive the Agency, and the international community concerning its clandestine nuclear activities. The recent Board of Governors resolution, condemning Iran’s lack of cooperation with the Agency, and long overdue open questions, reflects the growing international concerns regarding Iran’s ill conduct. Moreover, Iran continues to develop, test and deploy long range ballistic missiles, in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and supports terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East. Iran, obtaining nuclear weapons, is not an option that Israel, nor the world, can tolerate,” he said.

Gen. Edri stressed that the “ongoing unrest in the Middle East is a threat to peace and security worldwide and requires the attention of all Member States – and one country (Iran) is the leading factor in the instability of the region. “

The Israeli Atomic Energy Chief also took advantage of the opportunity to deplore Arab countries for politicizing the Agency against the Jewish State. “Unfortunately, the Arab Group continues with its endless efforts, to abuse this professional forum for one reason only – to single out Israel. The agenda item entitled “Israeli Nuclear Capabilities”, placed on the agenda year after year, is politically driven and contradicts the IAEA Statute and mandate. Mr President, We strongly object to its inclusion on the agenda. This agenda item draws attention from the important issues concerning the General Conference, to yet another attempt to politicize this professional forum. Moreover, this useless political act is in contradiction to the overall positive spirit in our region. These acts, are bound to fail.”

Also speaking at the IAEA General Conference was the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Eslami, who rejected all allegations against his country; claiming that they are not only false but baseless. “It should be clarified that there is no undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran, all allegations are merely based on false and fabricated information provided by the Israeli occupation regime. The Islamic Republic of Iran truly expects the Agency to conduct its reporting on verification activities in a more professional, impartial and independent manner,” he declared.

Eslami, who also serves as Iran’s Vice President, continued by addressing the IAEA’s open investigations into nuclear particles that were uncovered and retrieved by the Agency’s inspectors from undeclared installations. He moreover declared that Israel is responsible for those so-called ‘false allegations,’ and that a political decision to close prior probes of elicit nuclear activities serves as proof that the Islamic Republic is in fact a good actor.

He insisted that, “It is highly expected that the Agency to preserve its integrity and credibility not to allow certain elements to rise under different guises, old allegations which were already closed in 2015. Once again, I would like to reiterate that these old allegations were closed in 2015. The case has been terminated but they have been retrieved under various excuses. We believe that the Agency must refrain from relying on baseless false information from unreliable sources. In this vein, the Agency shall maintain its independence, impartiality and professionalism and to play a constructive role

It is important to highlight that Iran continues to refuse to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement so long as the IAEA probes the nuclear materials are ongoing. Nevertheless, Director General of the United Nations Watchdog organization, Rafael Mariano Grossi, repeatedly asserted that the path to ending the outstanding investigations includes Iran’s provision of technically credible answers – which is a position supported by the United States and the E3 nations of France, Germany and Britain.