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Iran Slams Israel, US for Remarks on Its Nuclear Program

By Nigar Bayramli February 2, 2023

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on January 30, 2023. / AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani has criticized comments by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran’s nuclear program.

“US Secretary of State whose country used the first nuclear bomb in the world, and PM of fake Zionist regime, with a horrible nuclear arsenal, stand together warning of Iran nuclearization (an NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] member and committed to it),” Kanani wrote in a Twitter on January 31.

In his comments issued on the website of the Iranian Foreign Ministry on January 30, Kanani advised “the US government to think fast about its inflammatory remarks” and “be aware of the legal consequences of its threatening comments against the Islamic Republic.” He further warned the United States that Tehran’s response to “aggressors will be decisive,” one that will make them “regret” the plan. Kanani reiterated Iran’s official line that its nuclear program is peaceful and that seeking atomic bombs stays out of its agenda.

Last November, Iran announced the beginning of uranium enrichment to 60 percent purity at its fuel enrichment plant in Fordow, a year after increasing enrichment to the same level at its Natanz facility. The Iranian government decided to install advanced centrifuges and increase uranium enrichment in retaliation for the April 2022 attack against Natanz. Now, supplies of the radioactive metal held in at least these two facilities are closer to weapons-grade 90 percent purity.

During their joint press conference in Jerusalem on January 30, Netanyahu told Blinken primarily about Israel’s concerns regarding Iran, as he reiterated warnings against Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Israeli prime minister said that many in the international community “have seen the true face of Iran. They’ve seen the barbarism of this regime against its own people. They’ve seen how it exports aggression beyond its border and beyond the Middle East, and I think there is a common consensus that this regime must not acquire nuclear weapons.”

In turn, Blinken said that “we agree that Iran must never be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, and we discussed deepening cooperation to confront and counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and beyond. Just as Iran has long supported terrorists that attack Israelis and others, the regime is now providing drones that Russia is using to kill innocent Ukrainian civilians.”

In a separate meeting with Blinken, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that “your visit to Israel comes at a critical time and sends a clear message to our adversaries and partners in the region: the US and Israel are united against the Iranian threat and against anyone who tries to destabilize the region.”

“We completely agree with the fact that Iran must not be allowed to obtain military nuclear weapons,” the defence minister added.

Secretary Blinken’s visit comes in the wake of a spate of deadly violence in the region. On January 27, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside of a synagogue in East Jerusalem. A day after, Iran said that it had thwarted a drone attack on a military site in the central city of Isfahan. The Iranian media accused Israel of being behind the attack.

Nour News affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) claimed on February 1 that the three small drones used in the attack had been “transferred to the country by counterrevolutionary Kurdish groups” and “assembled in a well-equipped workshop” in Iran.

Iran has long accused opposition Kurdish groups in Iraq of maintaining close relations with Israel. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) last year launched attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan, targeting alleged Israeli facilities. In July 2022, the Iranian intelligence ministry claimed to have detained a team of Kurdish “mercenaries” linked to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad who was reportedly planning an attack on a defense site in the central province of Isfahan.