Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited France on Tuesday and declared that the world “must respond” to Iran’s nuclear activity.
The Israeli leader accused Iran of violating the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. But Tehran has not been bound by the agreement since the Trump administration withdrew from it in 2018 by reimposing sanctions on Iran.
“The facts are that Iran is violating the agreement and continues to develop its nuclear program,” Lapid said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “Given all this, the world must respond,” Lapid added.
Macron appeared to break with Lapid on the JCPOA by calling the deal a “good agreement” that must be defended while also looking out for Israel’s interests in the region. “We have to defend this deal. And take in account the interests of our friends in the area, primarily Israel,” the French leader said.
French officials have expressed interest in lifting sanctions on Iran and also Venezuela to get their oil back on the market as Europe is facing soaring energy prices due to Western sanctions on Russia. But the US has thrown cold water on the idea of a JCPOA revival after indirect talks with Iran in Doha yielded no progress, although Iranian officials remain hopeful.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused Iran of carrying out its “most significant” military activity in the Red Sea in over a decade. “In the last months, we have identified the most significant Iranian military presence in the area, in the past decade. It is a direct threat to international trade, energy supply, and the global economy,” Gantz said at an event in Greece.
If Gantz’s claims are true about Iran’s presence in the region, it could be a response to Israeli attacks on Iranian ships in the Red Sea. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel attacked at least a dozen ships in the Red Sea between 2019 and March 2021. Israel mostly targeted Iranian ships or vessels carrying Iranian oil.