In a visit to Moscow to shore up ties between Israel and Russia, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that “Iran’s march towards a nuclear weapon is not only an Israeli problem, it’s a problem for the entire world.”
“The world needs to stop Iran from getting a nuclear capability, no matter the price,” he said in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. “If the world doesn’t do it, Israel reserves the right to act… Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state, or even a nuclear threshold state.”
Another crucial concern between the two countries is Russia’s involvement in Syria. Russia has been a key Syrian ally, helping President Bashar Assad since 2015 after his country was rocked by a decade-long civil war. Moscow recently brokered a ceasefire in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.
Yet Iran runs proxy groups across the Middle East including in Syria and Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border. Israel is believed to be behind air strikes against Iranian-related groups in Syria, which has caused apparent consternation in Moscow.
The Russian army provides aerial defense systems to Syria and reported last week that Syria had intercepted more than 20 missiles allegedly fired by Israel and another 22 two weeks before that.
“That is why we formed the military deconfliction mechanism – which is both necessary and effective,” Lapid said acknowledging Russia’s interests in the region.
“We all aspire to bring security and stability in our region and to the world. Unfortunately, there won’t be stability in Syria, or in the wider Middle East, while there is an Iranian presence,” Lapid said. “Iran is the world’s number one exporter of terror. It threatens us all.
Lapid and other Israeli officials have stated in the past that Israel will defend itself by not allowing Iran to attain nuclear capability.
“Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state, or even a nuclear threshold state,” Lapid warned.
The meeting between the two foreign ministers preempts an October meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Just this week, a United Nations report warned that Iran regime has quadrupled its stockpile of 60%-enriched uranium stockpile since May in flagrant violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said Tehran has refused to allows its inspector access to IAEA monitoring equipment and that its monitoring mechanism and activities has been “seriously undermined.”
This comes despite an outreach by the new American administration to reopen dialogue aimed at reviving the nuclear deal which former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018.
After the IAEA report, however, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Iran was running out of time to return to talks.
“I’m not going to put a date on it but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the JCPOA does not reproduce the benefits that that agreement achieved,” Blinken said while on a state visit to Germany.
During elections and the recent inauguration of Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, Tehran had indicated that talks were unlikely to resume for two to three months.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that was “far too long” and called the Iranian foreign minister to urge the country to “return more swiftly to the negotiating table.”
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS