Tel Aviv has reportedly identified “numerous targets” inside the country whose destruction could potentially undermine Tehran’s ability to develop nukes – allegations that Israel has actively voiced and that Iran has repeatedly refuted, saying its nuclear program is designed to serve only peaceful purposes.
The Israeli military is revising plans to prepare for a potential strike on nuclear sites in Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Fox News Thursday.
“If the world stops them before, it’s very much good. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves,” Gantz told.
Tensions seem to be rising further in the region, as the United States and Iran remain at an impasse concerning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal. Former American president Donald Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018, slapping Iran with harsh sanctions under the so-called policy of “maximum pressure.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif looks on during a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran, Iran February 21, 2021.
Commenting on the possible revival of the JCPOA, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly opposed, Gantz said that one should distinguish between US and Israeli policies.
On February 23, Iran started limiting the scope of the IAEA’s inspections as a temporary measure until the sanctions against it are lifted. The UN nuclear watchdog reached a temporary bilateral understanding with Tehran in February, which allows international inspectors limited access to nuclear sites for three additional months after Iran’s threat to shut them out.
As Biden was inaugurated on January 20, Netanyahu congratulated him on assuming office, expressing hopes that the new US administration would build upon the Trump-brokered peace deals, calling on Biden to cooperate with Israel in confronting Iran.
The most recent escalation in Iran-Israel relations came following the assassination of prominent Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Iranian officials claimed that Israeli spy agency Mossad was behind his death, while Tel Aviv has fallen short of dismissing its alleged involvement.