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Israel prods India on Iran

- Tel Aviv call to strengthen UN sanctions

New Delhi, Feb. 21: Israel has flagged afresh its mounting threat perception from Iran with India and sought greater convergence on strengthening UN-mandated sanctions against Tehran.

Israel’s concerns, which relate to both nuclear proliferation and alleged abetment of terror outfits, were raised during a meeting of the bilateral joint working group on counter-terrorism yesterday.

“Iran remains the key threat to our national security with the steady progress of its nuclear programme and its help to groups like Hezbollah in Syria and Hamas in Gaza,” a source in the Israeli delegation said. “But equally, Iran remains a threat to the region as a whole because of its known missile technology proliferation and its involvement with terror groups. Our view on this was clearly expressed to India.”

Asked how close Iran was to developing a nuclear device in the Israeli perception, the source said: “Too close for comfort, there is no moderation in their pace and progress, which is why we maintain that international sanctions, and other efforts, to make Iran desist need to be stricter.”

The Indian side at the counter-terror talks, held formally after a six-year interregnum, was led by Asoke Mukerji, special secretary in the ministry of external affairs (MEA); the Israeli side was headed by Jeremy Issacharoff, deputy director for strategic affairs, and Eitan Ben David, who heads the counter-terror bureau in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office.

The Israeli delegation also brought up last February’s bomb attack on a diplomat in front of their embassy in Delhi hoped the probe would progress swiftly and action taken.

“We remain convinced that the attack was planned and executed by Iranian operatives,” the sources said. “A similar attack was carried out against us the same day in Tbilisi. We hope the perpetrators will be brought to justice soon, we are following the progress of the investigations.”

The two sides are believed to have exchanged notes on the security environment in West Asia, with special focus on Iran and Syria, and in South Asia, especially with regard to the scenario in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of international troops in 2014.