| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Israel says determined to keep pressure on Iran’s nuclear program

Israeli politicians and military leaders will continue to work and exert pressure on Western countries even after signing the new document of understanding, said a senior political source in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee session in the Knesset that the government does not trust Iran will abide by the agreement.

Netanyahu asserted that Israel would monitor Iran’s nuclear activity and fight it.

Another source told the Israeli Walla news site that Iran’s nuclear program is the most critical issue raised by Israeli officials during their meetings with their US counterparts.

Asked about the agenda of the meeting of the Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, with US President Joe Biden next July and the Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin in Belgium, the sources asserted: “Iran, Iran, and Iran.”

He said the Iranian issue would dominate the discussions between Gallant and his counterparts from France, Italy, Romania, and Hungary at the Paris Air Show.

Walla quoted a high-ranking Israeli official saying that Gallant is expected to ask Austin again to advance the delivery of US Boeing KC-46 Pegasus refueling planes, which Israel bought last year.

The report pointed out that Israel needs refueling planes to prepare for a possible attack on Iran.

It indicated that Gallant discussed earlier with Netanyahu and senior security officials achieving and maintaining the qualitative superiority of Israel in the Middle East and confronting the Iranian threat.

Netanyahu discussed the imminent agreement between the US and Iran, asserting that Israel’s position is clear and not binding to Tel Aviv.

“Our position is clear: Israel will not be bound by any deal with Iran and will continue to defend itself.”

Netanyahu said Israel remained opposed to a return to the original 2015 nuclear deal and is working “to stop Iran and, on the other hand, we are making great efforts to expand the circle of peace. These things present us with great challenges but also possibilities.”

On Thursday, the New York Times confirmed that US and Iran are close to signing an “understanding,” under which Tehran pledges not to enrich uranium beyond its current production level of 60 percent purity. Washington, in turn, would release part of the frozen funds.

Iranian officials said Iran would also halt lethal attacks on American contractors in Syria and Iraq by its regional proxies, expand its cooperation with international nuclear inspectors, and refrain from selling ballistic missiles to Russia.

Head of the Institute for Zionist Strategies Dennis Ross said the US seems to be making clear to Iran that “if you go to 90 percent, you’re going to pay a hell of a price.”

Ross believes the Biden administration has no appetite for a new crisis.

“They want the priority and focus to remain on Ukraine and Russia,” he said.

“Having a war in the Mideast, where you know how it starts but you don’t know how it ends, that’s the last thing they want.”

Meanwhile, Israel makes overt military moves, including military exercises.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a leading Israeli defense technology company, developed an advanced missile interceptor dubbed “Sky Sonic,” described as a groundbreaking defensive response to the growing threat of hypersonic missiles.

The system will be officially unveiled for the first time next week at the company’s pavilion at the Paris Air Show, one of the world’s largest aerospace exhibitions.

The new system is a response to the military parade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the presence of President Ebrahim Raisi. It included the unveiling of Fattah, Iran’s first hypersonic missile.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat