Israel is taking advantage of UN Secretary General António Guterres’ visit to voice its unease over recent reports which indicate that Iran is accelerating efforts to manufacture state-of-the-art strategic weapons in Lebanon and the war-torn Syrian territory.
“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told media representatives alongside the UN chief on Monday.
“…and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,” he added.
Netanyahu stressed that Iran “is building sites to produce precision-guided missiles towards that end in both Syria and Lebanon”. He also said: “This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”
Iran’s never-ending attempts to supply arms to its Lebanese allies and Israel’s grave concerns over the development of facilities that produce advanced weaponry in the country were also brought up by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defense minister, in his meeting with Guterres.
“We are determined to prevent any threat to the security of the citizens of Israel,” the office of the Israeli defence minister said. Although these allegations against Tehran have been around for some time, it seems like Israel is now determined to raise them on international forums.
Maj-Gen Herzl Halevi, Israel’s military intelligence chief, while speaking at a policy conference, said Iran had been working hard in the past year to get advanced precision weaponry systems functional in both Lebanon and Syria.
Halevi was of the opinion that Lebanese militant organisation Hezbollah would stand to gain a lot if Iran succeeded. He also warned that similar factories could spring up inside Yemen as well, saying, “We cannot remain indifferent to this and we don’t.”
Israeli leadership also wanted the UN chief to push peacekeeping forces in Lebanon into honouring their commitments, which mandate them to take action against Hezbollah’s buildup of weapons.
“I will do everything in my capacity to make sure that UNIFIL fully meets its mandate,” Guterres said, who is on his first visit to the conflict-ridden Middle Eastern zone.
He also stated that “the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective.”
This story originally appeared in The New York Times.
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