Iran threatens to quit global nuclear treaty and build a bomb

Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Iran threatens to quit global nuclear treaty and build a bomb

  • The fate of the 2015 pact has been in doubt since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out
  • The only country ever to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea

JEDDAH: Iran threatened on Monday to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), paving the way for construction of a nuclear bomb.

The threat is Iran’s latest gambit to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, and reimposed sanctions. In response, Iran began enriching uranium in breach of the agreement, in an attempt to put pressure on European states to save the deal.

That tactic backfired last week when Britain, France and Germany declared Iran to be in violation of the JCPOA, and triggered a dispute mechanism under which the issue will be referred to the UN Security Council, with full UN sanctions reimposed within 60 days.

“If the Europeans continue their improper behavior or send Iran’s file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Monday.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “The European powers’ claims about Iran violating the deal are unfounded. Whether Iran will further decrease its nuclear commitments will depend on other parties and whether Iran’s interests are secured under the deal.”

The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War. Signed by 190 countries, it bans signatories other than the US, Russia, China, Britain and France from acquiring nuclear weapons, in return for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programs for power generation, overseen by the UN.

The only country to declare its withdrawal from the NPT was North Korea, which expelled nuclear inspectors and openly tested atomic weapons. Nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and Israel never signed.

Iran “will quicken the pace of its nuclear program” if it quits the NPT, security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik told Arab News. It would also expose the extent to which Tehran had already breached the JCPOA, said Karasik, senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington DC.

“North Korea pulled out of the treaty in 2003 and of course went on to build nuclear weapons,” he said. 

“So Iran and North Korea would be in the same strategic box in terms of any possible further negotiating, because of the personal relationships between their nuclear scientists.

“In the wake of the Ukrainian passenger plane debacle, Iran’s decision-making in relation to the West and its neighbors is undergoing a shift toward more aggression.”


Egypt building wall along Gaza border: security source

Updated 2 min 4 sec ago

Egypt building wall along Gaza border: security source

  • Dozens of workers aided by cranes could be seen erecting the structure
  • It wil will stretch from Gaza's southeastern tip to the Rafah crossing with Egypt

GAZA CITY: Egypt has begun building a concrete wall along its border with Gaza, said AFP journalists and a Palestinian security official from Hamas, which controls the enclave, on Wednesday.
Dozens of workers aided by cranes could be seen erecting the structure, which will stretch from Gaza’s southeastern tip to the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the only gateway out of Gaza that does not lead into Israel.
The wall is being built along the lines of an old, lower barrier that includes an underground structure designed to curb smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.
Contacted by AFP, Egypt’s military declined to comment on the new structure.
A Hamas security source told AFP that the goal was “to complete (the wall) as quickly as possible.”

A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip at the border with Egypt shows a crane at the construction site of a wall on the Egyptian side of the border on Feb. 19, 2020. (AFP)

“The important thing for us is to control the border and prevent any illegal activity there,” including any cross-border trafficking, the a said.
A security delegation from Egypt led by General Ahmed Abdel Khalek, who heads Palestinian affairs at Egypt’s intelligence agency, was in Gaza last week seeking to restore calm between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas and the Jewish state have fought three wars since 2008.
Egypt, long a mediator between the two sides, and key Gaza donor Qatar strongly pushed for de-escalation last year.
A truce was quietly agreed but it was not endorsed by Islamic Jihad, another major armed group in Gaza that Israel says is backed by Iran.
Israel’s military said Wednesday that it had “identified a sniper squad of the Islamic Jihad terror organization” firing on troops from Khan Yunis in Gaza.
It said no troops were injured but Israeli forces returned fire and “a hit was identified.”
Officials in Gaza said an Islamic Jihad fighter was slightly injured.