Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in the Knesset, September 2, 2021.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Foreign Policy in an interview published Tuesday (Israel Can Live With a New Iran Nuclear Deal, Defense Minister Says) that Israel would be willing to accept a return to a US-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, but Israel would want to see a “viable US-led plan B” with broad economic sanctions on Iran if the talks fail, as well as a plan C: US support for Israeli military action should the Islamic Republic reach a viable nuclear device.

Gantz believes Iran is between two and three months away from being able to produce one nuclear bomb, having “steadily ramped up its nuclear work since the United States withdrew from the deal, despite a so-called maximum pressure campaign advanced by Trump and Netanyahu that included sanctions and sabotage efforts.”


On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sharply criticizes former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with News 12, saying there was a very large gap between Bibi’s speeches and actions on the ground: “Israel inherited a situation where Iran is at the most advanced point ever in the race for the nuclear bomb. Do you remember the performance of my predecessors at the UN with the bomb and the red line? Iran has long since crossed that red line. In the last two and a half years, Iran has made great progress, and the gap between rhetoric and speeches and deeds is very large.”


Gantz reassured FP the IDF was preparing to stop Iran’s nuclear plot. “If push comes to shove, we’ll get there,” Gantz said. “We’re not America, but we have our capabilities.” He also raised an alarm regarding the coming regional nuclear arms race should Iran cross the threshold to a viable device. “Other states won’t just sit quietly,” Gantz said. “They’ll buy it directly off the shelf from Pakistan or whoever they can.”

Bennett explained how his government was dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat: “We have formulated a multi-dimensional action plan that addresses four of Iran’s axes of progress: the uranium enrichment axis; the ‘weapon’ axis – turning it into a bomb; the ‘missile’ axis – leading a missile to its destination; and the regional axis – Iran’s expansion into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. They are literally an empire looking to take over the region. We built an action plan to meet all four axes. We’re working – and the gaps must be closed in a hurry.”

The Prime Minister emphasized that most of his meeting in August with President Joe Biden dealt with Iran: “We presented our plan of action to our friends in the United States – and not only to them but also to countries in the region. We’ll be happy if, alongside our independent actions, our partners will also operate. Either way, now the responsibility rests on our table and we are determined to prevent Iran from going nuclear at all costs.”

In related news: on Tuesday night, Vice-President and the Head of Atomic Energy Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Eslami announced that “Despite the widespread efforts of the enemies to prevent scientific development in the country, we are witnessing considerable success.”

“We will take widespread and special measures and all capacities will be used for this purpose,” Eslami said.


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