Israel Reinforces Nuclear Facilities to Counter Iranian Threats

(Bloomberg) -- Israel is upgrading and reinforcing its nuclear facilities to withstand attacks to counter Iranian threats to strike the Jewish state’s nuclear sites, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Commission said.

“We cannot ignore the repeated and explicit threats, made by Iran and its proxies, to attack Israel’s nuclear sites,” Zeev Snir said in a speech Tuesday to the 62nd General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. “These outrageous threats require Israel to take action and continue to protect and defend its nuclear facilities.”

Israel historically has refused to confirm reports that its nuclear plant near the desert town of Dimona, formally classified as a research center, is in fact a plant for building nuclear bombs. The plant was renamed last month for former President Shimon Peres, who was instrumental in developing the French-built reactor when he was deputy director of Israel’s Defense Ministry in the late 1950s.

Snir also said Iran had lied to the IAEA, and the world, regarding its long term plan to acquire military nuclear capabilities. He urged the agency to conduct a “robust verification of Iran’s clandestine activities.”

The IAEA previously had reported that Iran coordinated a nuclear-weapons program before 2003, and continued assessing a range of technologies relevant to building a bomb until 2009. In a recent report seen by Bloomberg, IAEA inspectors said Iran is keeping to the terms of the 2015 deal, signed with international powers, that limits its nuclear program.

Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy militia in Lebanon, has repeatedly threatened to target the Dimona reactor if war breaks out. In recent years, Israel has carried out dozens of strikes on Iranian assets and proxies in Syria, where Tehran is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, and has pledged to prevent Iran from arming Hezbollah with high-quality precision missiles.

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