image Photo: Flash90, Reuters

Israel will protect itself even if friction with US

Photo: Koby Gideon (GPO)

Israel will not hesitate to exercise its right to self-defense against Iran – even if it risks straining ties with the United States.

This, from Israeli Caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for the new Director of the Mossad David Barnea.

“Our greatest threat is the existential threat posed by Iran’s efforts to arm itself with nuclear weapons, whether to threaten us directly – with atomic weapons – with the destruction of a small state, or to threaten us with tens of thousands of missiles or a great many missiles backed by a nuclear umbrella. This is a threat against the continuation of the Zionist enterprise and we must fight this threat relentlessly,” Netanyahu charged.

Explaining that “I have said these things to my friend of 40 years, (US President) Joe Biden, and I told him: ‘With or without an agreement, we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons.’ Iran is different from the other countries that have nuclear weapons today; therefore, containment is not an option.”

The right-wing Likud leader then underscored, “If we need to choose – and I hope it will not happen – between friction with our great friend, the US, and getting rid of an existential threat, getting rid of an existential threat will prevail.”

Turning to those gathered including the new Mossad chief, the Israeli leader added, “This first falls on all of you, on the political leadership of the State of Israel and on you David. All of you must do everything, everything, to ensure that Iran will never arm itself with nuclear weapons.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who leads the centrist Blue and White party, swiftly issued a statement of his own.

After acknowledging that, “Iran poses a threat to regional security and global peace. It supports terrorism and is pursuing nuclear plans that pose an immediate threat to the State of Israel,” the former IDF Chief of Staff said, “Nonetheless, Israel remains the most powerful country in the region within a 1,500-kilometer (900 mile) radius from Jerusalem. The US has been and will continue to be Israel’s most important ally, protecting Israel’s security and safeguarding its qualitative edge in the region.”

Stressing that “The Biden Administration is a true friend of Israel, and Israel doesn’t have and will never have a greater partner than the United States,” Gantz insisted that, “Even if differences arise, they will be resolved through direct dialogue, behind closed doors, not through provocative statements that serve to harm Israeli security.”

For his part, Israel’s newest spymaster said that the mission to stop the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons will not be impeded by ongoing international talks in Vienna aimed at returning the US and Iran to compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal.

“The agreement with world powers that is taking shape only reinforces the sense of isolation in which we find ourselves on this issue,” observed Barnea, before emphasizing, “I say it clearly — no, we do not intend to act according to the majority opinion since this majority will not bear the consequences for the erroneous assessment of this threat.”

“The Iranian program will continue feeling Mossad’s might. We are well acquainted with the nuclear program and its various components, we know personally the factors that operate in it and also the forces that drive them,” he vowed, disclosing that, “Iran is working, even at this very moment, to realize its nuclear vision, under international protection. Under the protection of the agreement and without it, through lies and concealment of the truth, Iran constantly advancing toward a weapons of mass destruction production program.”

At yesterday’s farewell ceremony for outgoing Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu said he had entrusted the intelligence chief with the “divine task” of preventing nuclear arms from being developed in Iran, which he likened to a bull – in apparent reference to the Biblical Book of Exodus: Chapter 21, Verse 29.

“I do not want – nor can I – elaborate here all that we are doing to combat the Ayatollah regime which threatens us with annihilation. It is better, also this evening, that most of these things from the Kingdom of shadows remain hidden,” said Netanyahu about clandestine Israeli activities, before acknowledging that “one of the Mossad’s brightest achievements in all of its years” was the capture of Iran’s secretive nuclear archive “from the heart of Tehran” in 2018 – which he said “proves beyond any reason of doubt that Iran’s rulers are brazenly lying.”

Speaking of the daring Mossad mission under his command, the outgoing director said, “We penetrated the deepest spot of the heart of the Iranian enemy. We acted diligently to gather and expose its darkest secrets and we have shaken its personal confidence and arrogance. We have brought the nuclear archives and exposed to the whole world Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its intent, the safeguarding of capabilities regarding its nuclear weapons, and the deception and lies of Iran which attempted, and continues to do so, to mock the entire world over the course of years.”

Iran’s secret nuclear archive revealed that the Ayatollah regime had been concealing stockpiles of nuclear-related material at 3 separate undeclared sites in direct violation of the JCPOA. Israel passed the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which then attempted to utilize snap inspections authorized by the nuclear accord.

On Sunday, the IAEA revealed that Tehran has once again failed to explain traces of uranium found at the undeclared sites.

It is as of yet unknown what impact this latest report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog organization will have on the Vienna Talks.

Israeli Defense Minister Gantz will make lightning visit to the United States today to hold what his office said would be a “strategic dialogue on the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran“ with US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, discussion will also include “maintenance of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME), “Middle East stability at large,” and “review” of the Ministry’s “plan for achieving long-term quiet in Gaza and recovering Israel’s MIAs and hostages, while strengthening the regional Alliance of Moderates and the Palestinian Authority.”