By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Iran said on Monday it was ready to continue cooperating with U.N. nuclear watchdog while revealing a drone capable of hitting major cities in Israel, which has threatened to attack Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to save a 2015 nuclear pact.
Speaking after European powers expressed frustration with Tehran’s intentions to salvage the agreement, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “not to yield to Israel’s pressure” over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
The IAEA’s Board of Governors meets on Monday, three months after adopting a resolution urging Iran to give credible answers to the agency’s investigations into uranium traces at three sites in Iran. Iran says the probes are politically motivated.
On Saturday, France, Britain and Germany said they had “serious doubts” about Iran’s intentions to revive a deal curbing its nuclear programme in return for a lifting of sanctions, comments that were rejected by Tehran and called “very untimely” by Moscow. Read full story
“Iran announces its constructive cooperation with the agency as its obligation … While Iran has obligations, it also has rights,” Kanaani told a televised news conference.
“Naturally Iran expects constructive actions from IAEA and the members of its governing board.”
After 16 months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Aug. 8 the bloc had laid down a final offer to overcome an impasse for the revival of the agreement.
Earlier this month, Iran sent its latest response to the EU’s proposed text. Western diplomats said it was a step backwards, with Tehran seeking to link a revival of the deal with the closure of IAEA investigations into the uranium traces.
Kanaani called Saturday’s European statement “unconstructive”.
“Both the U.S. and Europe should prove that they do not prioritize the interests of the Zionist regime (Israel) when taking political decisions,” he said.
Widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arms but which sees Iran as a existential threat, Israel says it will attack Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails to contain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran has vowed a “crushing” response to any Israeli aggression.
Iran’s ground forces chief Brigadier General Kiomars Heidari said on Monday that Tehran has developed an advanced long-range suicide drone “designed to hit Israel’s Tel Aviv, Haifa”, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. Read full story
The director of Israel’s Mossad spy service, David Barnea, warned Iran’s clerical rulers against “resorting to force against Israel or Israelis”.
“The top Iranian echelon must be aware that resorting to force against Israel or Israelis, directly from Iran or via proxies, will meet a painful response against those responsible – on Iranian soil,” Barnea said in a speech at Reichman University near Tel Aviv on Monday.
“This will happen in Tehran, in Kermanshah, in Isfahan,” he added, referring to areas of Iran where authorities have reported sabotage operations against facilities or personnel linked to the country’s military or nuclear programmes.
(Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Philippa Fletcher)