By Erin Viner
“Iran’s domestic situation presents an opportunity for the international community. Iran is not a leading power – its citizens are suffering as a result of the poor economic situation, investments and development have been slashed by 50% in the last decade, and the country faces a variety of internal and external challenges,” Israel’s top defense chief Benny Gantz told lawmakers in discussion on recent developments vis-à-vis Iran and his visit to the United States for talks with officials about the Islamic Republic.
“The Iranian regime is well aware of this situation and as such, Iran is coming into negotiations without real bargaining chips,” he stated in regard to the Vienna Talks, underscoring that “It is possible and necessary to put an end to Iran’s ‘time-dragging’ strategy. We are deepening international cooperation, and I am certain that soon – both overt and covert actions will be expanded, by a variety of means.”
The remarks from Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gantz, a former IDF Chief of Staff, come amid prevailing pessimism over international efforts at the Vienna Talks to halt soaring nuclear development in Iran by negotiating its return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“At the same time, for the past year and a half, we have been engaged in force buildup, procuring new means that will ensure Israel’s security superiority in the region in the face of all threats,” Defense Minister Gantz warned.
Israeli officials, including Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Mossad Director David Barnea and Foreign Minister and Alternate Premier Yair Lapid have been holding a flurry of talks with their Western counterparts – including talks with American leaders to discuss a back-up, so-called “Plan B” response – if diplomatic attempts fail to prevent Iran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons.
“A significant chunk of the boost to the defense budget – as was recently agreed – is intended for this purpose. It’s a very complicated job, with much more intelligence, much more operational capabilities, much more armaments. We’re working on all these things,” the IDF chief said in an interview published by Walla News.
“Iran is only 2 months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” the IDF Chief stressed, insisting Israel must have “a viable ‘Plan B’ in order to stop Iran in its tracks” from reaching atomic bombs capability while it remains unclear if the Ayatollah regime intends to negotiate a new agreement with the international community.