Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, August 3, 2022.

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned United Nations envoys on Monday that Iran has significantly increased its uranium enrichment over the past year.

Speaking with UN Security Council members and Abraham Accords ambassadors on the second anniversary of the historic Middle East agreement, Gantz said the Islamic Republic is not only advancing in its nuclear capabilities, but also in its rate of production.

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The defense minister, joined by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, and other top Israeli defense officials, also met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“The number 1 cause for instability and terror in the Middle East is Iran,” Gantz told the envoys. “Iranian activities spread terror and could even spark an arms race.

“I am here because I believe that together we can prevent it, and the time to act is now.

“Iranian regional and global terror – whether it comes from Iran proper or via well-funded proxies – threatens our economies, energy resources, food security, trade, freedom of navigation and overall peace and stability.

“This will only worsen if Iran will have a ‘nuclear umbrella’,” Gantz warned.

“Israeli intelligence confirms international reports that Iran is progressing its nuclear program,” he emphasized. “Over the past year, Iran has steadily increased its production of hundreds of centrifuges, which will enable enrichment to high levels. In fact, according to our assessments, in the past year the number of advanced centrifuges has more than doubled in the underground facilities of Natanz and Fordow. Iran is not only advancing in its capabilities, but also in its rate of production.

At the Fordow underground site — where I remind you that the JCPOA prohibits activities — Iran’s enrichment rate has tripled in the last year. The international community must unite. We need powerful and decisive action,” he urged.

Gantz Unveils Map of Iranian Factories Producing Missiles for Hezbollah, Other Proxies

Also on Monday, Gantz unveiled a map showing more than 10 different facilities producing advanced missiles and weapons for its proxies in the region, (including the underground “Masyaf” facility) including Hezbollah.

Speaking at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York City, Gantz said Iran has transformed the CERS military industry in Syria into production facilities for advanced missiles and strategic weapons intended for Hezbollah and other proxy groups in the region.

IAEA ‘Not in Position to Assure Iran Nuclear Program is Exclusively Peaceful’

Also on Monday, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned in a statement to the agency’s board of governors that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could not guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program is “exclusively peaceful.”

Iran removed 27 IAEA cameras from its nuclear sites on June 8. “We would also need to determine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of data recorded by our surveillance equipment between 21 February 2021 and 8 June 2022,” Rafael Grossi noted.

“Even then, considerable challenges would remain in order to confirm the consistency with the situation prior to 21 February 2021 of Iran’s declared inventory of centrifuges and heavy water,” he said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.