Israel reserves freedom of action against Iran nuclear program, Lapid says

PM calls on international community to levy heavy sanctions on Tehran for newly reveals breaches of past agreements on nuclear program, says Biden 'will carry with him a message of peace and hope' in upcoming Mideast tour
Haim Goldich|
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday that Israel maintains its freedom of action against Iran's nuclear program.
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  • "Israel reserves political and military freedom of action in fighting the Iranian nuclear program," he said at the opening of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
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    יאיר לפיד בישיבת הממשלה
    יאיר לפיד בישיבת הממשלה
    Prime Minister Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem)
    Lapid made the remarks ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's Middle Eastern tour later in the week in which the American leader — who Lapid dubs "one of the greatest friends Israel has ever had in American politics" — is set to cover a wide range of issues, including Iran's nuclear proliferation.
    "This visit will deal with risks as well as opportunities. The discussion of risks will focus first on the issue of Iran. Yesterday, it was revealed that Iran is enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges, in stark contrast to the agreements it has signed," he said. "The international response must be decisive — going back to the [United Nations] Security Council and levying sanctions in full force."
    The premier also thanked Biden for not removing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, an issue that has proved a major sticking point in the ongoing negotiations to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran.
    "This is a chance to thank [Biden] again for the U.S. not lifting sanctions from the IRGC. Iran stands behind Hezbollah, back Hamas, Iranian squads tried recently to murder Israeli tourists in Istanbul," he said.
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    U.S. President Joe Biden
    U.S. President Joe Biden
    U.S. President Joe Biden
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "Israel will not stand by while others are trying to harm it. Our security agencies can reach anyone, anywhere, and they will do so. We will hold a discussion with the president and his staff on expanding security cooperation in the face of all threats."
    After concluding his visit to Israel, Biden will continue his regional tour to Saudi Arabia on the first-ever direct flight between the countries, which is seen by many — including the U.S. leader — as a sign of burgeoning rapprochement between Jerusalem and Riyadh.
    "[Biden] will carry with him a message of peace and hope," Lapid said. "Israel extends a hand to all countries of the region and calls to establish ties with us and change history for the sake of our children," he said.
    In an opinion piece he penned for the Washington Post Saturday night, Biden his flight from Israel to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia "will also be a small symbol of the budding relations and steps toward normalization between Israel and the Arab world" which "my administration is working to deepen and expand."
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    מוחמד בן סלמאן
    מוחמד בן סלמאן
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
    (Photo: AP)
    Biden also writes that his administration will "continue to increase diplomatic and economic pressure until Iran is ready to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, as I remain prepared to do."
    A senior Israeli official told Ynet that Biden "arrives in Israel to coordinate positions with the Israeli leadership because the two countries are quite sure that the nuclear agreement has collapsed."
    "The fact that he will fly directly from Israel to Saudi Arabia is not a coincidence. It was done in coordination between all three countries because it is a simpler way of saying that there are intentions to tighten ties without getting involved. Biden's arrival will be accompanied by a strategic dialogue the like of which we haven't seen in years."
    Biden is also set to visit the Palestinian Authority where he is scheduled to meet his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.
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