Israeli PM says better to confront Iran sooner than later

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 6, 2018. Netanyahu spoke about Iran’s nuclear program. (Jim Hollander/AFP)
Updated 06 May 2018
0

Israeli PM says better to confront Iran sooner than later

  • Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has "half a ton" of documents which prove Iran lied about its nuclear activities
  • The Israeli PM's comments come as US President Donald Trump considers ditching the nuclear deal

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused Iran of supplying advanced weapons to Syria that pose a danger to Israel, saying it’s better to confront Tehran sooner rather than later.
Israel has repeatedly warned it will not tolerate a lasting Iranian military presence in neighboring Syria, and is believed to have been behind recent airstrikes on Syrian military bases that killed Iranian soldiers, prompting Tehran to vow revenge. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.
Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday that Iran has delivered advanced weapons to Syria “in order to attack us both on the battlefield and on the home front.”
“We are determined to block Iran’s aggression against us even if this means a struggle. Better now than later,” he said. “We do not want escalation, but we are prepared for any scenario.”
Israel has long viewed Iran as its biggest threat because of Tehran’s nuclear activities, its support for armed groups across the region and its leaders’ frequent calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. In recent years, Iran has provided crucial military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Netanyahu’s remarks came as President Donald Trump weighs whether to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu was an outspoken opponent of the deal, which required Iran to limit its nuclear enrichment in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Netanyahu says the deal will not prevent Iran, Israel’s most bitter enemy, from reaching nuclear weapons capability.
Last week, Netanyahu said a “half ton” of Iranian nuclear documents seized by Israeli intelligence revealed that Iran had lied about its past efforts to produce nuclear weapons. He did not provide any evidence that Iran has violated the 2015 nuclear deal, but said the documents prove Tehran cannot be trusted.
Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, but has never publicly disclosed its arsenal.
European countries, which have been pressing Trump to stick with the deal, said Netanyahu’s presentation only reinforced the importance of the agreement, which provides for inspections.


UN Syria envoy to step down next month

Updated 17 October 2018
0

UN Syria envoy to step down next month

  • “I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” Staffan de Mister said
  • He said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons”

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations envoy for Syria announced on Wednesday he will step down at the end of November after more than four years in the key post, setting back UN efforts to end the seven-year war in Syria
“I will myself be moving on as of the last week of November,” Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council during a meeting on the crisis in Syria.
The Italian-Swedish diplomat, who became the UN’s third Syria envoy in July 2014, said he was leaving for “purely personal reasons” and had discussed his plans to leave with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“I am not laying down the charge until the last hour of the last day of my mandate,” he said.
De Mistura will be traveling to Damascus next week to push for the creation of a committee to agree on a post-war constitution for Syria.
Syria is resisting the UN-led effort to set up the constitutional committee that will be comprised of government officials, opposition members and representatives of civil society.
De Mistura was appointed UN envoy for Syria in July 2014 after veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi resigned following the failure of peace talks in Geneva.
Brahimi spent two years in the position, stepping in after former UN chief Kofi Annan quit just six months into the role.
More than 360,000 people have died in the war in Syria, which began in March 2011 as an uprising against President Bashar Assad but has since morphed into a complex war with myriad armed groups, some of which have foreign backing.