Iran & Israel cooperate over nuclear testing

Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.(Reuters / Majid Asgaripour)

Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.(Reuters / Majid Asgaripour)

They may be bitter enemies, but Iran and Israel appear to have been cooperating within the boundaries of an international body that has been set up to monitor a ban on nuclear bomb tests.

“During the exercise, when we had our round-table discussions
or dinner or lunches, you had Iranian experts and Israeli experts
sitting at the same table,”
Lassina Zerbo, a leading
commission member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Organization (CTBTO), told Reuters.

“It’s not unusual that we see that in the technological field
we have people who don’t necessarily get together politically but
who find things to agree on in the scientific framework,”

READ MORE: Netanyahu’s biggest fear? That Iran
‘honors nuclear deal’

The CTBTO was founded in the 1990’s and has wide support around
the globe. However it is yet to come into force, as eight
countries including Israel, Iran and the US have not ratified it.
The organization has established a system, which would be able to
detect any nuclear test taking place, due to 337 monitoring
facilities dotted at various locations around the globe.

There are two nuclear monitoring stations in Israel and another
one in Iran. However, Zerbo says the one in Iran has been
inactive since 2006 because sanctions introduced against Tehran
by the West made it difficult to bring in equipment, which would
upgrade the facility.

Israel, which is believed to be the only nuclear power in the
Middle East, has long been suspicious of Iran wanting to build a
nuclear weapon. Even a framework deal concerning Tehran’s nuclear
ambitions, signed on April 2 between Iran and the P5+1 Group
(China, France, Russia, UK, US and Germany) has managed to
alleviate Israeli fears.

Zerbo says he now hopes he can bring the Iranian side back into
the fold and effectively put Tehran on the same detection grid as
Israel, thus making it much easier to monitor any potential
nuclear activity.

READ MORE: Iran’s recognition of Israel can’t be
part of nuclear deal – Obama snubs Netanyahu

Iran has said on numerous occasions that its nuclear program is
purely for civilian and peaceful purposes. During the framework
deal in Lausanne, Iran gave concessions to the group, which would
make it almost impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon,
without being detected.

If Iran keeps its side of the bargain, Tehran will see the
lifting of crippling sanctions imposed by the West. However,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says this would be a
mistake and on the contrary, sanctions should be ramped up.

“I wouldn’t bet the shop on inspections,” he said.
“It’s not a country that you can place your trust in. And
it’s not a country that you’re going to resolve its congenital
cheating. You’re just not going to replace it by placing more
inspectors there.”

The White House has defended the US stance on Iran against
Israeli criticism, with President Barack Obama calling the
agreement a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” as he
reiterated US support for Israel in the case that it would ever
come under attack.

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