Israeli PM says countering Iran will top Biden visit agenda

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JERUSALEM – Expanding collaborative action against Iran will be a primary priority during US President Joe Biden’s impending visit to Israel, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday, calling for a “decisive” reaction to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

In his second cabinet meeting since assuming office on July 1, Lapid referred to Biden as “one of the closest friends that Israel has ever had in American politics.” Biden is scheduled in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The visit “will focus first and mainly on the issue of Iran,” according to Lapid, who is premier and foreign minister of a caretaker Israeli government until elections in November.

“Iran was shown yesterday to be enriching uranium in sophisticated centrifuges in complete violation of the accords it has signed,” Lapid remarked on Sunday.

“The international response must be decisive: a return to the UN Security Council and full activation of the sanctions mechanism,” he continued.

Israel is opposed to the reinstatement of a 2015 agreement between Iran and foreign powers that gave Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

Under then-President Donald Trump, the US withdrew from the agreement in 2018, reimposing harsh penalties on Tehran.

Many Israelis applauded the development, which pushed Iran to withdraw from many of the nuclear commitments it made under the agreement.

Negotiations to resurrect the agreement, including indirect negotiations with the US, began in Vienna in April of last year but have been stuck since March.

Aside from Iran’s nuclear program, Israel has been more concerned about Tehran’s support for the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

Iran has also been accused by Israel of conspiring to kidnap or assassinate Israelis in Istanbul.

“Israel will not sit back and watch while Iran tries to strike us,” Lapid added. “We will explore extending security cooperation against all threats with the president and his team.”

Source: Arab News

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