Jerusalem: Talking tough, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Iran that Israel would not allow it to acquire nuclear weapons even as he accused Tehran of destabilising the region and spreading terrorism globally.
The warning from Israel, the Middle East's sole but undeclared nuclear power, came as world powers, including the US, lifted sanctions on Iran under a historic nuclear deal to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"Israel's policy has been and will remain exactly what has been followed: to not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons," Netanyahu, known for his hawkish stand on the Iranian nuclear issue, said during a cabinet meeting.
Earlier, Netanyahu's office had said that Iran will continue to destabilise the Middle East and spread terrorism throughout the world.
"Israel will continue to monitor Iran's negative activities and will take all necessary measures to maintain its security and defend itself," it said.
It warned that "Iran has not abandoned its aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons and continues to destabilise the Middle East and spread terrorism throughout the world."
The historic nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers, struck in July last year, entered into force yesterday as the UN confirmed that Tehran has shrunk its atomic programme.
Israel tried to prevent the accord, arguing the deal would not stop Tehran from developing an atomic weapon if it wished. Iran has always denied the charge that it was seeking to build a nuclear bomb.
Unless there is an appropriate response to each Iranian violation of its deal with the six world powers "Iran will surmise that it can continue to develop nukes, destabilise the region and spread terror," the prime minister's office warned. Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the deal's implementation marks "a new and dangerous time in which Iran is free of most economic sanctions without having to stop its nuclear plan and without having to give explanations about its military activity as it had to in the past."
Erdan alleged that Iran continues supplying arms to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups, intervening in Gulf States' internal affairs and violating UN Security Council decisions about developing ballistic missiles.
"This is a difficult day for all the countries in the region, which hoped that Iran will not be able to obtain nuclear weapons and stop its negative intervention in the area," he was quoted as saying by Jerusalem Post.
"Israel will continue following and demand from the international community not to ignore Iranian violations, in order to ensure that they won't be surprised like in the case of North Korea."