Netanyahu vows to keep up fight against Iran nuclear arms

AFP  /  April 18, 2023

PM makes announcement as exiled Iranian crown prince Reza Pahlavi visits Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would continue its “fight” to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, during a Holocaust ceremony attended by Iran’s exiled crown prince on Monday.

Recalling a recent visit to Berlin, Mr Netanyahu noted that since Nazi-era Germany “the world has changed, but the calls for our extermination have not ceased, and today come from the regime of horror in Tehran”.

“We are fighting resolutely against any nuclear deal with Iran that will pave its way to nuclear arms,” the Israeli premier said in a speech on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“And for the same reason, we are fighting resolutely against Iran’s terror proxies around us,” he said at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, warning of Israel’s “crushing response” to any enemy approaches.

Attending the ceremony was former Iranian crown prince Reza Pahlavi, whose father was the shah overthrown in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Mr Pahlavi, who landed earlier on Monday for his first visit to Israel as the guest of Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel, said ahead of the ceremony that the current Iranian regime did not represent the Iranian people.

“Today, when we have a regime that denies that the Holocaust ever occurred, it was my duty to be here representing my fellow compatriots, to honour the victims of the Holocaust and pay my respects,” he told reporters.

On-off talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a 2015 landmark deal that sought to curb Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief have stalled since last year.

The deal Iran reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US collapsed after Washington’s unilateral withdrawal in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump.

In February, the UN nuclear watchdog said it had detected particles of uranium enriched to 83.7 per cent in Iran, just under the 90 per cent needed to produce an atomic bomb.

Iran denies wanting to acquire atomic weapons and says it had made no attempt to enrich uranium beyond 60-per cent purity.