JERUSALEM: The expansion of cooperative efforts to confront Iran will be the main topic of discussion during US President Joe Biden’s impending trip to Israel, according to Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who called for a “decisive” reaction to Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.
Lapid referred to Biden, who is scheduled to visit Jerusalem on Wednesday, as “one of the closest friends that Israel has ever had in American politics” when addressing his second cabinet meeting since taking office on July 1.
Lapid, who is serving as the premier and foreign minister of a caretaker Israeli government until elections slated for November 1, stated that the visit “would focus first and foremost on the issue of Iran.”
Iran has alerted the Vienna-based watchdog about improvements to its uranium enrichment capability, according to an IAEA report that surfaced over the weekend.
“Iran is enriching uranium in sophisticated centrifuges in flagrant violation of the accords it has signed,” Lapid said on Sunday.
“The international response needs to be decisive: to return to the UN Security Council and activate the sanctions mechanism at full force,” he added.
Israel opposes the reinstatement of a 2015 agreement that saw Tehran receive respite from sanctions in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program. Under then-president Donald Trump’s leadership, the US pulled out of the agreement in 2018, and Tehran was hit with harsh new penalties as a result.
That decision, which led Iran to back out of many of the nuclear commitments it made under the agreement, was applauded by many in Israel. Indirect talks with the US and other negotiations aimed at reviving the agreement began in Vienna in April of last year, but have been deadlocked since March.
Israel has expressed increasing concern about Tehran’s support for the Lebanese organization Hezbollah in addition to Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel has also claimed that Iranian spies planned to kidnap or murder Israelis in Istanbul.
Israel won’t watch helplessly as Iran tries to harm us, Lapid declared. “We will discuss enhancing security cooperation against all threats with the president and his team.”
John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House, said on Thursday that Biden’s agenda for the Middle East trip would include “more collaboration” on matters like air defense, particularly concerning confronting Tehran.
Saudi Arabia is another stop on Biden’s itinerary.