Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has accused Iran of deceiving the international community about its atomic activities and said his country “reserves the right to self-defence“.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has paid a brief visit to Israel, which has long accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has paid a brief visit to Israel, which has long accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. (AP Archive)

Israel has told the UN nuclear watchdog that it will prefer a diplomatic resolution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, but added that it “reserves the right to self-defence” against Tehran.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also accused Iran of deceiving the international community about its atomic activities as he met with the visiting head of the UN nuclear watchdog on Friday.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, paid a brief visit to Israel, which has long accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons.

Bennett “expressed Israel’s deep concern regarding Iran’s continued progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while deceiving the international community by using false information and lies”, his office said.

He “emphasised the urgent need in mobilising the international community to take action against Iran, using all means, in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons."

"While it prefers diplomacy in order to deny Iran the possibility of developing nuclear weapons, Israel reserves the right to self-defence and action against Iran to stop its nuclear programme if the international community fails to do so within the relevant time-frame," it added without elaborating.

There was no immediate comment from Grossi's office.

READ MORE: Iran nuclear talks unblocked, final deal within reach: EU

Tensions prevail

On Thursday, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, told Norway's NRK that Israel "can only attack Iran in its dreams".

"And if they do have such a dream, they will never wake up from it," Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted Bagheri Kani, who is on an official visit to Norway, as saying.

Israel's warning to Grossi followed calls by Western powers on the IAEA Board of Governors to rebuke Tehran for failing to answer questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites.

Iran has recently condemned as "not fair" a report by the UN nuclear watchdog on traces of nuclear material found at three undeclared sites.

That dispute has further clouded so-far fruitless attempts by negotiators to resurrect a 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former US President Donald Trump quit in 2018. 

Israel was a staunch opponent of the deal and welcomed Trump’s withdrawal.

Since Washington's walkout, Iran — which says its nuclear designs are peaceful — has stepped up uranium enrichment, a process that could produce fuel for bombs.

READ MORE: Iran centrifuge facility moved to 'safer' underground nuclear site

Source: TRTWorld and agencies