Netanyahu Says Israel 'Will Do Everything' To Deny Iran Nuclear Weapons
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Iran on Tuesday saying that his country “will do everything so that you will not arm yourselves with nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu’s tough message came after he held a meeting with his political rivals to chart a course regarding how to deal with Iran and its nuclear program amid a push by the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA.
However, Reuters quoted a top official as saying that Israel will address disputes with the United States over Iran "below the radar" for now, citing sources involved in the strategizing session convened by Netanyahu.
The Netanyahu government has decided to avoid public spats with U.S. President Joe Biden over his desire to return to a 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but that approach could change depending on the actions of the Biden administration, Army Radio added.
In a second tweet the Israeli leader said, “We are not pinning our hopes on any agreement with an extremist regime such as yours. We have already seen the nature of agreements with extremist regimes such as yours, in the past century and in this one, with the government of North Korea.”
The conservative premier is seeking a fifth term in a March 23 election. Unlike previous campaigns, he has not played up foreign policy - reflecting perhaps a change of fortune since Biden, a Democrat, succeeded Republican president Donald Trump, a vocal ally of Netanyahu.
On Monday, Netanyahu held a first meeting about Iran with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, his centrist political rivals, in what officials said was an effort to present a united Israeli front.
Under the 2015 deal with world powers, Iran agreed to limit its enrichment potential - a possible pathway to atomic bombs - in exchange for a lifting of most sanctions. Netanyahu upset then-U.S. President Barack Obama, whom Biden served as vice president, by addressing Congress as part of vigorous advocacy against the deal.
Trump quit the deal in 2018, deeming it one-sided in Iran's favor. Iran began breaching the deal the 2019 and has recently stepped-up violations.
The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it was ready to talk to Tehran about a mutual return to compliance with the agreement. A person familiar with the matter said Israel was informed in advance.
Israel said in a statement on Friday it was "in close contact" with Washington on the issue and asserted that a return to the 2015 deal would "pave Iran's path to a nuclear arsenal".
Israel is reputed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal but neither confirms nor denies this under a "strategic ambiguity" policy to deter Arab and Iranian adversaries.
Tehran, which denies seeking the bomb, has so far been cool to the Biden administration's overture.
With reporting by Reuters