Israeli defence minister in US to discuss Iran nuclear talks

Benny Gantz tells US National Security Adviser that Israel opposes the emerging agreement

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Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz. — AP file
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz. — AP file


Published: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 9:58 PM

Israel’s defence minister said on Friday it was important to maintain capabilities for “defensive and offensive purposes” as he met with a senior US official to reiterate Israel’s opposition to an emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

Israel is staunchly opposed to efforts by world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement and says it will not be bound by the accord currently being discussed. Neither Israel nor the United States have ruled out military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, meeting with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, said Israel opposes the emerging agreement, which has not yet been finalised or released to the public.

Gantz “emphasized the importance of maintaining and advancing operational capabilities for both defensive and offensive purposes in (the) face of Iran’s nuclear programme as well as its regional aggression,” a Defence Ministry statement said.

“This is regardless of the discussion surrounding the agreement,” it added.

A US statement said the two officials discussed the “US commitment to ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon, and the need to counter threats from Iran and Iran-based proxies”.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes. Under the 2015 agreement with world powers, it curbed its nuclear activities and allowed expanded monitoring of its facilities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and restored crippling sanctions on Iran, which then began ramping up its nuclear activities.

Experts say Iran has enriched enough uranium up to 60 per cent purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent — to make one nuclear weapon should it decide to do so. However, Iran still would need to design a bomb and a delivery system, which would likely take months.

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