Aug 16, 2022
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Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday that Israel would not stand idly by while Iran tries to attack it, and called on the international community to restore the “full force” of economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, according to a statement released by his office.

The comments come a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had begun using advanced centrifuges at its underground Fordow facility to enrich uranium.

“Yesterday, it was revealed that Iran is enriching uranium in advanced centrifuges in complete contravention of the agreements it has signed,” said Lapid in the statement. “The international response needs to be decisive: to return to the U.N. Security Council and activate the sanctions mechanism at full force. Israel, for its part, reserves for itself full freedom of action, diplomatic and operational, in the fight against the Iranian nuclear program.”

Lapid emphasized that Israel would “not stand idly by while Iran tries to attack us,” adding, “Our security services know how to reach anyone, anywhere—and they will do just that. We will discuss with [U.S.] President [Joe Biden] and his team expanding security cooperation against all threats.”

The American leader is scheduled to arrive in the Middle East this week, for a visit which will see him travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a stop in Ramallah to meet with Palestinian officials.According to Reuters, Iran informed the IAEA on July 7 that “it had begun feeding” an advanced centrifuge cascade to produce uranium enriched to 20 percent U-235. The U.N. nuclear watchdog also reiterated in its report that Tehran has already stockpiled uranium enriched to 60%, which is a short technical step away from the 90% grade required for nuclear weapons.

While Iran is required to update the IAEA if it moves to produce more highly enriched uranium, the agency’s report warned that if Tehran “chose not to, it might escape detection for some time as there is currently a lag between Iran’s enrichment and IAEA inspectors’ verification of what is produced.”

In response, Israel’s former military intelligence head, Maj. Gen. (res.) Tamir Heiman, told 103 FM on Sunday that, “In Fordow there are advanced centrifuges, and a rapid ability to move between different enrichment states. While this means that by tomorrow morning the Iranians can enrich to the military level of 90%, this does not mean that they have a bomb, and it still does not mean that it is too late. This can still be delayed.”