Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about preparations for a potential military strike against the country’s arch-nemesis Iran during his visit to the US, multiple Israeli outlets reported on Saturday. Gantz met top US officials, including Lloyd and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on Thursday.
“The defense minister told Americans that he had instructed the military to prepare for military option,” a senior security source said, as quoted by Israel’s Army Radio.
The same source claimed that while Tehran was “close to producing enough fissile material for a single nuclear bomb,” it would not push through the “threshold” because it understands the gravity of such a step. While Israel has repeatedly accused Iran of seeking to obtain nuclear weaponry, Tehran has consistently rejected such allegations, maintaining that its nuclear program served solely civilian purposes.
A separate diplomatic source told Israeli media that the announcement did not meet any objections from the American officials.
“There was no veto,” the source said, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
During his US visit, Gantz expressed hopes of deepening “dialogue and cooperation” with Washington when it comes to Iran, as well as to enhancing the “joint military readiness to face Iran and to stop its regional aggression and nuclear aspirations.” While Austin appeared to be less warlike, he said Washington was concerned about Iran’s failure to show constructive diplomatic engagement, warning that US President Joe Biden was “prepared to turn to other options” in dealing with Tehran.
Shortly after the Lloyd-Gantz meeting concluded, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki doubled down on US readiness to explore other “options.”
“Given the ongoing advances in Iran’s nuclear program, the president has asked his team to be prepared in the event that diplomacy fails, and we must turn to other options, and that requires preparations,” Psaki said. She said the “options” might include “additional measures to further restrict Iran’s revenue-producing sectors,” yet avoided explicit mention of military intervention.
The hostile rhetoric comes amid the recently resumed Vienna talks, designed to revive the landmark 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The negotiations, however, have not gone any further, with Tehran continuing to demand that Washington lifts its “oppressive” sanctions in full.
The JCPOA agreement effectively fell apart after then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally walked away from it back in 2018, accusing Tehran of somehow violating the “spirit” of the deal. Since then, Washington has re-imposed old sanctions and introduced new measures against Tehran. The Islamic Republic has gradually suspended its JCPOA obligations, ramping up uranium enrichment and expanding its nuclear program.
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