Israel calls for ‘military coalition’ if Iran boosts enrichment

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Jerusalem: Israel’s intelligence minister today called for a military coalition against Iran if the Islamic Republic were to defy world powers by enriching military-grade uranium.

Yisrael Katz’s remarks came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began visiting European leaders to discuss Iran’s regional involvement and nuclear programme, both seen by the Jewish state as grave threats.

European powers have been scrambling to preserve a landmark deal over Tehran’s nuclear programme since US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal from the treaty in May.

Katz addressed Tehran’s threat to restart uranium enrichment at an “industrial level” if the 2015 pact falls apart.

“If the Iranians don’t surrender now, and try to return” to unsupervised uranium enrichment, “there should be a clear statement by the President of the United States and all of the Western coalition,” he said.

“The Arabs and Israel surely would be there too.”

The message should be that “if the Iranians return” to enriching uranium that could enable them to build a nuclear bomb, “a military coalition will be formed against them,” Katz told Israeli public radio station Kan.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday warned European leaders to drop their “dream” of Tehran continuing to curb its nuclear programme despite renewed economic sanctions.

He also called Israel a “malignant cancerous tumour” that should be removed.

The Iran deal paved the way for the partial lifting of international sanctions against the country, in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme for several years.

Israel argues the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear deal allowed Iran to expand its presence in the Middle East, both through its own forces and with proxy groups.

It also says the time limits on the accord do not guarantee Iran will not eventually obtain nuclear weapons, while it also wants to see restrictions on Iranian missile development.

Iran denies the pursuit of an atomic programme for military purposes.

In his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu warned that Iran was “seeking nuclear weapons to carry out its genocidal designs.”

“It’s important to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We commit, and I commit again, that we will not let that happen,” he said yesterday.

Netanyahu will meet French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May. (AFP)