Senior Israeli officials on Monday lauded the reimposition of US sanctions on Iran as a historic turning point that could ultimately lead to the Islamic Republic’s downfall, and called on other countries to follow suit.
“This is an important moment for Israel, for the United States, for the region, and for the entire world,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video released Monday, moments after Trump signed new sanctions into law.
“It symbolizes the determination to curb Iran’s regional aggression and its ongoing plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” added the prime minister.
The Israeli voices represented a global minority in support of US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose the sanctions starting Tuesday, as Europe expressed dismay over the move.
But Netanyahu said European countries should follow Trump’s lead and reimpose sanctions as well.
“I call upon the European countries, which are talking about stopping Iran, to follow suit. It’s time to stop talking, it’s time to do. That’s exactly what the US did and that’s what Europe needs to do.”
Signing an executive order putting the sanctions back in place, Trump restated his opinion that the 2015 international accord to freeze Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions was a “horrible, one-sided deal.”
US President Donald J. Trump signs an executive order on Iran Sanctions at Trump National Golf Club, August 5, 2018, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
He said it left the Iranian government flush with cash to use to fuel conflict in the Middle East, and urged all nations “to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”
Trump warned that those that don’t wind down their ties to the Iranian economy “risk severe consequences” under the reimposed sanctions.
“This courageous decision will be remembered for generations,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman wrote on his Twitter account.
Liberman said Trump had “changed the direction regarding Iran,” despite mixed messages from the US administration, which has offered support for direct talks with Iran’s leadership while also blasting Tehran’s “murderous” rulers and putting new pressure on the regime.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a press conference on July 19, 2018. (Flash90)
“No more agreements and subservience, but rather a determined struggle to stop the murderous ayatollah regime, which spreads terror, violence and hatred throughout the Middle East,” Liberman vowed.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated Trump “for his brave stand against Iran’s tyrannous regime.”
“The sanctions stand as a lesson to Iran’s leaders and the whole world. Iran must end its genocidal ambitions, & its spread of hatred, instability, & terror across the region,” he wrote.
Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said the sanctions, which will snap back at midnight US time, would force Iran to choose whether to rein in its nuclear activity and regional aggression or risk the collapse of the regime.
“The first option is good, the second is excellent,” he tweeted. “I welcome the US president’s tough and justified policies.”
Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, called the return of the sanctions a “return to sanity.”
“No longer will a regime that supports world terror, massacres hundreds of thousands of civilians, demands Israel’s destruction, oppresses its own people, and lies about its nuclear program be rewarded,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Foreign Ministry on Sunday afternoon posted a video calling Iran “the greatest threat to world peace and security” and urging the international community to take several steps to make sure regime will never be able to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Jerusalem’s warm embrace of the US sanctions in Iran stood in stark contrast to the European Union, which said it would move to protect countries that remain in Iran.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the US, due to the latter’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany said in a joint statement, using the nuclear deal’s technical name.
“The JCPOA is working and delivering on its goal, namely to ensure that the Iranian programme remains exclusively peaceful,” the statement went on. “It is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture, crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world.”
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of prior to a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
The European Commission vowed to oppose the new US sanctions regime, updating its so-called Blocking Statute that is aimed at “sustaining trade and economic relations between the EU and Iran.”
“The Blocking Statute allows EU operators to recover damages arising from US extraterritorial sanctions from the persons causing them and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court rulings based on them,” the Commission said in a press release.
“It also forbids EU persons from complying with those sanctions, unless exceptionally authorised to do so by the Commission in case non-compliance seriously damages their interests or the interests of the Union.”
Brussels will announce the criteria for these authorizations on Tuesday.
“The European Union is fully committed to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, as long as Iran also respects its nuclear-related commitments,” the press release states. “At the same time, the European Union is also committed to maintaining cooperation with the United States, who remains a key partner and ally.”
The other signatories of the 2015 JCPOA — Russia and China — also opposed the America withdrawal from the landmark pact and criticized the reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, arguing that Tehran had kept up its part of the deal.