August 18, 2019

Netanyahu: Iran’s Recent Actions Are Attempts at ‘Blackmail’ for Money

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a joint news conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (unseen) at his office in Jerusalem, June 26, 2019. Debbie Hill/Pool via REUTERS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a July 2 speech that Iran’s belligerent behavior of late is nothing more than an attempt to strong-arm Western countries into giving the regime more money.

Speaking at a Jerusalem reception, Netanyahu said that “Iran openly violated the [2015] nuclear deal by increasing the stockpile of enriched uranium (to beyond that) allowed under the deal” because they’re aiming “to blackmail the world into making concessions and reducing the economic pressure on it.” The Israeli prime minister urged the world not to fall for Iran’s gambit and reiterated his July 1 for European countries to ramp up sanctions on Iran.

“Now is the time to increase the pressure,” Netanyahu said. “Now is the time to stand firm.”

Iran announced on June 1 that they had exceeded the 300-kilogram uranium enrichment limit under the deal. President Donald Trump told Fox News later in the day that Iran was “playing with fire.” White House National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted that Iran’s move was likely “part of an effort to reduce the breakout time to produce nuclear weapons.”

Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement to the European Union’s High Representative on Iran, “We regret this decision by Iran, which calls into question an essential instrument of nuclear non-proliferation. We urge Iran to reverse this step and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz told Army Radio on July 2 that Israel will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from obtaining “nuclear weapons, even if we have to act alone on that.”

Iran’s economy has been reeling ever since the Trump administration exited from the Iran deal in May 2018 and ramped up sanctions.