Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that Iran has never given up efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, and pledged once again that Jerusalem will never permit Tehran to acquire them.
The Israeli leader made the statements during a joint press conference with visiting-United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at his side.
“In the Middle East, there is no threat that is more serious, more dangerous, more pressing than that posed by the fanatical regime in Iran,” stated Netanyahu, explaining that, “Iran continues to support terrorists around the world in five continents, threatening civilians everywhere. Iran has never given up its quest for nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Iran consistently and outrageously calls for Israel’s annihilation and works towards that goal.”
Addressing the top US defense chief, Netanyahu said, “Mr. Secretary, we both know the horrors of war. We both understand the importance of preventing war and we both agree that Iran must never possess nuclear weapons.”
“My policy as Prime Minister of Israel is clear: I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel. Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s aggression and terrorism,” underscored Netanyahu.
Secretary Austin’s 2-day trip marks the first visit to Israel by a senior official of the administration of US President Joe Biden.
Jerusalem regards the U.S.-Israel defense partnership as “crucial in dealing with the many threats confronting” both countries, the Premier said, adding that Secretary Austin’s presence in Jerusalem “so soon after assuming office is a testament to the importance you attach to our friendship and to our alliance.”
“You just said a moment ago in our meeting you said we’re not just allies, we’re family. We call that mishpucha. There is so much truth in that statement that our peoples instinctively understand,” Netanyahu told the visiting US official, emphasizing, “Secretary Austin, I can say with great confidence that Israel has no greater ally and certainly no greater mishpucha (Hebrew for “family”) than the United States of America and I can say equally that the United States has no greater ally and no greater mishpucha than the State of Israel.”
For his part, Secretary Austin reaffirmed the Biden Administration’s “strong commitment to Israel and its people,” which is “why I thought it was important that we meet face to face and to express our earnest desire for close consultations with Israel as we address shared challenges in the region.”
Underscoring his “personal pledge to strengthening Israel’s security and ensuring Israel’s qualitative military edge,” the Pentagon chief asserted that, “The close and strong ties that we enjoy with Israel are central to regional stability and security in the Middle East, and we both agree that we must continue to work closely together to enhance the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership. And so, we discuss ways to deepen and expand our long-standing defense relationship in the face of regional threats and other security challenges.”
Neither Prime Minister Netanyahu or Defense Secretary Austin made any mention of Iran’s accusation that Israel had sabotaged its key Natanz nuclear site.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, however, stressed that “the US was not involved in any manner. We have nothing to add on speculation about the causes or the impacts” of the attack. As a result, she said that that indirect talks between Washington and Tehran to discuss revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are expected to proceed in Vienna tomorrow unhindered, while acknowledging the “diplomatic discussions” are expected to be “difficult and long.”
While no concrete progress at the talks has yet been reported, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Qun – who attended last week’s deliberations – said that, “As of now, all parties have been narrowing down their differences and we do see the momentum for gradually involving consensus.”
Beijing has sustained crippling punitive economic measures for defying Washington’s sanctions on Tehran, re-imposed after former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018.
“The sanction lifting is a key – not only a key concern to the Chinese – but also a key issue baring on the success of how to get U.S. and Iran back to full compliance,” proclaimed the Chinese diplomat, stressing that his nation considers “all JCPOA-related sanctions as illegal.”
Russia’s economy has also been targeted by US sanctions for its dealings with the Islamic Republic.
In a first visit to Tehran this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held an extensive meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, during which the two top diplomats discussed the urgency of revitalizing the 2015 deal.
“We discussed in a concrete manner the situation surrounding the Plan of Action of Iran’s nuclear program. As you know, the only way to preserve this Plan is that each side must abide by its obligations as is dictated by (UN) Resolution 2231,” said Moscow’s top diplomat, adding, “We are hopeful about preserving the JCPOA and that Washington will return into compliance with the resolution which will consequently create the right conditions for Iran to return into compliance as well. As we know, our Iranian colleagues are prepared to immediately move in this direction once the United States fulfills its commitments. We support the Vienna negotiations and condemn any attempts to hamper these important talks.”
The Ayatollah Regime’s top diplomat seized the opportunity to voice outrage over the Natanz incident, which he maintained suffered little damage.
“They (Israel) foolishly believe that what took place in Natanz weakens Iran. In reality, this enables Iran to use all of its options at Natanz legally and legitimately and to compensate this terroristic idiocy,” said Zarif, adding, “I assure you that Natanz will definitely, in the near future, progress with more advanced centrifuges and if Israel thought they can prevent Iran and the Iranian people from pursuing the lifting of the (US) sanctions, they’ve played a very bad gamble.”
The Iranian Foreign Minister further threatened that if an internal investigation finds Jerusalem culpable, “then Israel will receive its response and it will see what idiocy it has committed. Rest assured that Iran’s position after this action will be stronger both in the negotiations and in nuclear future.”