UK and allies condemn Iran


UK and allies condemn Iran

Iranian threat: The UK along with France, Germany, and the US condemned Iran for its latest nuclear steps that were reported earlier this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

  • The IAEA report stated Iran had reversed a months-long slowdown in the production rate of highly enriched uranium up to 60 percent purity at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear plants.
  • In the joint statement, the countries described the IAEA findings as representing “a backwards step by Iran and will result in Iran tripling its monthly production rate of uranium enriched up to 60 percent” and that they “add to the unabated escalation of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
  • Iranian decisions demonstrate the country’s “lack of good will towards de-escalation and represent reckless behaviour in a tense regional context.”
  • The countries concluded that they “remain committed to a diplomatic solution and reaffirm our determination that Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon.”
  • The IAEA report raises fears that the Islamic Republic is slowly advancing towards achieving nuclear weapons capacity. In June, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini said, “the West could not stop Iran from building nuclear weapons if Tehran wanted a pursue a nuclear arms programme.”
  • The joint statement by Western powers emphasised that “the production of high-enriched uranium by Iran has no credible civilian justification.”
  • Foreign Secretary David Cameron described Iran as a “thoroughly malign influence in the region and in the world” and that the Iranian leadership and its proxies needed to be sent an “incredibly clear message that this escalation will not be tolerated”.

Lebanon: Hezbollah launched around 50 rockets and missiles as well as two drones at Israel yesterday.

  • Repeated drone infiltration and rocket alert sirens sounded throughout the day including in Haifa, Acre, Kiryat Shmona and other towns in the Upper Galilee. One drone was intercepted near Haifa that entered from Lebanon.
  • The IDF carried out widespread strikes in southern Lebanon in response.
  • Syria sources have claimed that Israel attacked several targets from the air in the area of Damascus and southern Syria. Among the targets was the Damascus Airport that Syria has claimed had been struck on numerous occasions. Israel sees the airport as a significant hub of Iranian efforts to transport advanced weapons to Hezbollah and their Syrian proxies.
  • In an unusual incident, late Wednesday evening a suspected explosive-laden drone crashed in the southern Golan Heights, with an Iran-backed Iraqi militia taken credit for launching the attack.
  • Attacks along the northern border from Lebanon since October 8 have caused the death of four civilian deaths and nine IDF soldiers. Israeli responses in Lebanon and Syria have killed 129 members of Hezbollah, 16 Palestinian terror operatives, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 19 civilians.
  • Also Wednesday, an Israeli strike in Syria killed Razi Mousavi, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) operative, with a rank of Brig. Gen who was involved in arms smuggling operations from Iran, arms production in Syria and channeling money to Hezbollah and other Shiite militias.
  • His assassination suggests Israel has escalated its battle against Iranian proxies to also target Iranian operatives themselves.
  • Earlier this week, Defence Minister Gallant, speaking at meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, said Israel was in a seven front war and had acted in six of them. “We are being attacked from seven different arenas: Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, [the West Bank], Iraq, Yemen, and Iran.” He added that “We have already responded and acted in six of these areas [not Iran], and I say here in the clearest way: Anyone who acts against us is a potential target, there is no immunity for anyone.”
  • The IDF remains in active manoeuvres in three areas:
    • Completing their takeover of the final two neighbourhoods (Darj and Tifah) in Gaza City.
    • Extending into the Bureij area in the centre of the Gaza Strip.
    • Targeted operations in the southern city of Khan Yunis.
  • In all these areas, whilst encountering difficult combat above ground, thousands of tunnel shafts have been exposed, many in Mosques, schools and UN facilities. These will require several more weeks or even months to completely decommission.
  • The only remaining area that the ground troops have not yet reached is the southern most area of Rafah and the Philadelphia Corridor along the Egyptian border.

Rafah and the Philadelphia Corridor: Prior to October 7, Rafah had a population of about a quarter of a million people. There are now 1.25 million people in Rafah.

  • The corridor is 13km long and runs from the sea to Kerem Shalom and bisects the city of Rafah into two; a Gazan and an Egyptian town.
  • Rafah and the corridor have long been the main smuggling route for Hamas and it is considered essential to disrupt this channel in order to prevent further rearmament in the future.
  • So far the Israeli Air Force has carried out targeted strikes, but no ground forces have operated in the area.
  •  The high population density and the close proximity and sensitivity of Egypt further complicates any prospective military action.
  • The Egyptians are wary that any IDF ground incursion could create more pressure of Gazans looking to flee into Egypt.
  • One idea, thought to have been explored with Egyptian and US officials, is to build a deep underground barrier along the Egyptian side of the border fitted with technological devices similar to those that were installed on the Israel – Gaza border.
  • Unlike the overground wall that was breached so significantly on October 7, the underground barrier has so far been fully effective. The technology included the ability to provide indication as to whether any digging is being done in the vicinity.
  • A new barrier could be built on the Egyptian side, which would help avoid direct IDF confrontations with Hamas.
  • The new proposal would see the establishment of a joint Israel – Egyptian control room to monitor any future digging attempts.
  • Israel is also keen to establish a monitoring mechanism to inspect legal above ground aid and goods entering Gaza from Egypt.
  • In parallel, Israel along with Cyprus and the UK are exploring the establishment of a sea corridor for the efficient entry of humanitarian aid and supplies.