Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has claimed that in the wake of its uranium enrichment ramp-up, Iran is veering toward a war in which it may suffer heavy losses.
Speaking to Israel Army Radio, Katz pledged that the Jewish state would not “allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, even if it has to act alone on that”.
Relations between Iran and Israel remain strained, with the Jewish state repeatedly accusing the Islamic Republic of supporting “terrorist” groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and of waging proxy wars in countries such as Syria which could pose a threat to Israel’s security. Iran denies the charges, accusing Israel and its allies of engaging in military aggression throughout the region.
Katz referred to the Islamic Republic’s “mistakes in the grey area” which Katz claimed would “lead it to the red zone — a war in which it will be hit hard”.
He also described Iran increasing its uranium enrichment volumes as a “wake-up call” for Europe.
“Feeding the Iranian tiger will not help; only an aggressive policy and sanctions and support for the US policy will quickly show that it is a paper tiger”, Katz argued.
US’ Accusations Against Iran Over Its Increasing Uranium Enrichment
The remarks come after US President Donald Trump accused Iran of “playing with fire,” while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that “the Iranian regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the region and to the world”, Pompeo said in a statement.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton, for his part, tweeted, “There is no reason for Iran to increase its enrichment unless it’s part of an effort to reduce the breakout time to produce nuclear weapons”.
This comes after the Iranian Students’ News Agency quoted Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying Monday that Tehran has stockpiled over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of enriched uranium, which is out of sync with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA).
At the same time, Zarif’s spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Tehran’s steps to decrease its commitments under the JCPOA are “reversible” and urged Europe to accelerate its efforts to save the deal.
On 8 May, Zarif said that Tehran would not be carrying out “some [of its] voluntary commitments” to the JCPOA, as the EU and other states had failed to resist pressure from the US, who pulled out of the accord last year and re-imposed sanctions on Iran. Since then, Iran has increased uranium enrichment fourfold.
US-Iranian Tensions on the Rise
Zarif’s current statement comes amid increasing tensions between Tehran and Washington which further deteriorated on 20 June, when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said that that they had downed a US Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone flying over the coastal province of Hormozgan because it violated the country’s airspace.
The US Central Command, for its part, claimed that the unmanned aerial vehicle was hit while operating over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
Shortly after, President Trump took to Twitter to claim that he halted a military strike against three sites in Iran a mere 10 minutes before it was set to be carried out, upon learning that some 150 Iranians were projected to die in the attack.
IRGC Commander-in-Chief, Major General Hossein Salami, for his part, warned that the downing of the drone was a “clear message” to Washington that Tehran would “react strongly” to any aggression.
Tensions between the US and Iran have been on the rise since Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA on 8 May 2018.
Exactly a year after, Tehran suspended some of its obligations under the JCPOA, in what was followed by the US imposing more anti-Iranian sanctions and sending an aircraft carrier strike force to the Persian Gulf in a “direct message” to the Islamic Republic.