Israel Upgrading and Reinforcing Nuclear Sites in Light of Iranian Threats, Atomic Energy Chief Says

Threats 'require Israel to take action and continue to protect and defend its nuclear facilities,' Zeev Snir says as Tehran demands UN supervise Israel's nuclear program

File photo: View of the Israeli nuclear facility outside Dimona on August 6, 2000.
JIM HOLLANDER/REUTERS

Israel is upgrading and reinforcing its nuclear sites amid Iranian threats to attack them, the director general of the country's Atomic Energy Commission said in a speech Tuesday.

In light of Iranian clandestine activities, Zeev Snir said, "we cannot ignore the repeated and explicit threats, made my Iran and its proxies, to attack Israel's nuclear sites. These outrageous threats require Israel to take action and continue to protect and defend its nuclear facilities. These facilities are constantly upgraded and reinforced, in line with IAEA safety guidelines, in order to withstand any attack."

Haaretz reported in June that the Israel Atomic Energy Commission has been taking numerous steps to protect the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Nahal Sorek in light of assessments that Iran and Hezbollah see the reactors as preferred targets for missile attacks. Commission members have said that such a scenario is the greatest danger related to the reactors today. The IAEC had held a large training exercise that simulated a missile attack on one of the reactors, and included the evacuation of employees and actions to prevent a leak of radioactive materials.

Meanwhile, Iranian state media reported on Thursday that Tehran has asked the United Nations to condemn Israeli threats against Tehran and to bring Israel's nuclear program under its supervision.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to a secretive Israeli atomic reactor in late August to warn the country's enemies that it has the means to destroy them, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to its assumed nuclear arsenal. 

"The United Nations' members should not turn a blind eye to these threats and must take firms actions to eliminate all Israeli nuclear weapons," Fars news agency quoted Iran's ambassador to the United Nations Gholamali Khoshrou as saying in letters to the UN secretary general and the security council. 

Khoshrou asked the United Nations to force Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and bring its nuclear program under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN atomic watchdog. 

Israel, which is outside the NPT, neither confirms nor denies having the bomb, a decades-old "ambiguity" policy that it says keeps hostile neighbors in check while avoiding the kind of public provocations that can spark regional arms races. 

Israel is trying to lobby world powers to follow the United States in exiting their 2015 deal with Iran that capped the Islamic Republic's nuclear capabilities in return for lifting of sanctions. 

The Israelis deem the agreement insufficient for denying their arch-foe the means to eventually get the bomb - something that Tehran, which is a signatory to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, denies wanting. 

Since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has preached Israel's destruction. It backs the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. Its reinforcement of Damascus during Syria's civil war is seen by the Netanyahu government as a further Iranian deployment on Israel's borders.