Israel’s defense minister claims that Iran is threatening to boost its uranium production because of its failing economy.

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani Photo Credit: EPA

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced today (Tuesday) that it will notify the U.N. of its intention to increase uranium enrichment. According to the organization’s spokesperson, Iran can renew the operation of its centrifuges now that the U.S. has pulled out of the nuclear deal. “In a letter sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran will announce the expansion of its uranium enrichment,” the spokesperson said.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded to Iran’s announcement while speaking at a conference in Eilat today, saying that the Iranian government is “showing signs of hysteria and panic” due to its economic situation. “The Iranian fear is that all the European investors will leave the country,” Liberman said. “The inflation, the devaluation of the Iranian rial — the quick deterioration — this is what concerns them. Peugeot’s announcement about leaving Iran is what prompted Khamenei to say what he said.”

Liberman’s remarks were made a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that he has informed the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to prepare to increase uranium enrichment. Khamenei said that he told the organization to make the arrangments “as quickly as possible so that if the president decides to give the order, it will be possible to begin the enrichment as early as tomorrow.”

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Germany meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During a joint press conference, Merkel revealed that most of her discussion with Netanyahu revolved around the nuclear deal and the Iranian presence in Syria.

“Regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, Germany and its European allies have a disagreement (with Israel), but we are aware that Iran’s bad influence on the stability of the Middle East is harmful to Israel’s security. We need to make all the diplomatic efforts in order to prevent that,” she said. “We know that we do not agree on all the issues we spoke about, but we are friends, we are partners and we will continue to try and find a mutual understanding.”

“The greatest challenge that the civilized world faces today is the danger that comes out from militant Islamic states that are bent on aggression and on acquiring a nuclear arsenal,” Netanyahu added. “Iran calls for our destruction, but it’s also seeking nuclear weapons to carry out its genocidal desires. We know that for a fact. … The other danger from Iran is that it’s trying to conquer the Middle East. It’s doing so in Iran, in Yemen and in other places.”

Meanwhile, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano commented yesterday on Israel’s unveiling of the Iranian nuclear archive and called on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to cooperate “on time and quickly” with the IAEA to exam the uncovered information.