- Title: Israeli minister says Iran training militias on UAVs near Isfahanw
- Date: 12th September 2021
- Summary: JERUSALEM (SEPTEMBER 12, 2021) (REUTERS FOR POOL) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NAFTALI BENNETT WALKING INTO WEEKLY CABINET MEETING MINISTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER, NAFTALI BENNETT, SAYING: "I hereby call on world powers not to be led astray by the Iranian subterfuge, which would drag them into further concessions. There must be no forgoing of the investigation into the sites, and most importantly - the most important message is: The duration must be circumscribed. They are stretching things out. A clear-cut deadline must be set in which they say: Here it ends. The Iranian nuclear project is at its most advanced point ever. This is the legacy that this government received, but now it is our watch. We are committed and we will contend with this project." BENNETT AND FOREIGN MINISTER YAIR LAPID DURING CABINET MEETING / WIDE OF MEETING
- Embargoed: 26th September 2021 10:22
- Keywords: Iran Israel Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett UAV
- Location: HERZLIYA, ISRAEL/ JERUSALEM
- City: HERZLIYA, ISRAEL/ JERUSALEM
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA002EUEYG5J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:QUALITY AS INCOMING
Israel's defence minister accused Iran on Sunday (September 12) of providing foreign militias with drone training at an airbase near the city of Isfahan, a month after Tehran came under global scrutiny over a suspected drone attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off Oman.
Israel has combined military strikes with diplomatic pressure to beat back what it describes as an effort by its arch-foe, whose nuclear negotiations with the West are deadlocked, to beef up regional clout through allied guerrillas.
In what his office described as a new disclosure, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Iran was using Kashan airbase north of Isfahan to train "terror operatives from Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in flying Iranian-made UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)".
Iran was also trying to "transfer know-how that would allow the manufacturing of UAVs in the Gaza Strip," on Israel's southern border, Gantz told a conference at Reichman University near Tel Aviv.
His office provided what it said were satellite images showing UAVs on the runways at Kashan. There was no immediate comment from Iran.
A July 29 blast aboard the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime, near the mouth of the Gulf, a key oil shipping route, killed two crew - a Briton and a Romanian.
The U.S. military said explosives experts from the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier - which deployed to assist the Mercer Street - concluded the explosion was from a drone produced in Iran, which was accused by other world powers in the attack.
Iran has denied involvement.
Later on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also referred to the Iranian nuclear programme after the IAEA informed member states this week that there had been no progress on two central issues: explaining uranium traces found at several old, undeclared sites and getting urgent access to some monitoring equipment so the agency can continue to keep track of parts of Iran's nuclear program as provided for by the 2015 deal.
Separate, indirect talks between the United States and Iran on both returning to compliance with the deal have been halted since June. Washington and its European allies have been urging hardline President Ebrahim Raisi's administration, which took office in August, to return to the talks.
"I hereby call on world powers not to be led astray by the Iranian subterfuge, which would drag them into further concessions," Bennett said at the start of an Israeli weekly cabinet meeting.
Under the 2015 deal between Iran and major powers, Tehran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018, re-introducing painful economic sanctions. Iran responded as of 2019 by breaching many of the deal's core restrictions, like enriching uranium to a higher purity, closer to that suitable for use in nuclear weapons.
Western powers must decide whether to push for a resolution criticizing Iran and raising pressure on it for stonewalling the IAEA at next week's meeting of the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors. A resolution could jeopardize the resumption of talks on the deal as Tehran bristles at such moves.
(Production: Rami Amichay, Lianne Back)
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