Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the Trump administration to ramp up its campaign of maximum pressure on Iran by implementing "snapback sanctions," ahead of a meeting with the U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
In his statement to the press, Netanyahu stated that Iran deliberately deceives the international community, and continues its covert nuclear weapons program, and producing the means to deliver those weapons.
The prime minister told Hook that he believes the time to impose snapback sanctions is now. "We should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon, because when that happens it will be too late for sanctions."
In recent months, the United States imposed additional sanctions on Iran, following accusations that the regime was using its shipping network to support proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Netanyahu also heaped praise on the U.S. administration for taking "important and courageous decisions to take out [commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, Qassem] Soleimani."
Speaking after Netanyahu, Hook said that Israel and the United States "see eye-to-eye on the dangers of letting the arms embargo expire on Iran," adding that because of "the failed Iran nuclear deal," in a few months Iran will be able to freely import, and subsequently export, "weapons and their technologies" to their proxies "such as Hezbollah, Palestine Islamic Jihad [sic], Hamas," and others across the Middle East and beyond.
"The last thing this region needs is more Iranian weapons," Hook said. "No country sponsors more terrorism and antisemitism in the world than the Islamic Republic of Iran."
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Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also met with Hook and told him that UN Security Council member states “should come to their senses and support the American initiative” to extend the arms embargo on Iran, “which never hesitated to use military and terrorist tools to advance its political aspirations.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the UN Security Council on Tuesday to extend the embargo before it expires in October, prompting Russia to slam Washington's policy toward Tehran as like "putting a knee" to the country's neck.
Earlier this month, the United States circulated a draft resolution on the measure to the 15-member council, but council veto-powers Russia and China have already signaled their opposition to the move.
Earlier Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Israeli and U.S. officials denied any involvement in a blast at a missile production facility near Tehran last week.
The report said Mossad and military intelligence are investigating the incident but have not yet reached a final conclusion. The IDF and office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment, as neither usually respond to foreign reports.
U.S. officials also doubted it was an act of sabotage, as the United States and Israel often coordinate on such missions, as they did with the cyberattack on Iran's nuclear centrifuge facility in 2010.
Reuters contributed to this report.