Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu says diplomacy has failed to stop Tehran from developing its nuclear capabilities and he will do “whatever we need to do to defend ourselves” against Iran. Talking to Sky News, he rejected US attempts to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities through dialogue.
“I don’t think that diplomacy by itself will work. I think diplomacy can only work if it’s coupled with a credible military threat or the willingness to apply the military option if deterrence fails,” he said.
“Iran is openly committed to destroying, repeating the Holocaust and destroying the six or seven million Jews of Israel and we’re not going to sit by, idly by, and let them do it.
“If these Ayatollahs think that they could threaten us with a nuclear holocaust they’re wrong. We will do whatever we need to do to defend ourselves.”
Tehran denies its nuclear programme is aimed at producing bombs, maintaining it is designed solely for peaceful civilian purposes.
Mr Netanyahu’s comments came the same day he warned US secretary of state Antony Blinken in a telephone call that no deal with Iran will stop its nuclear programme, adding that “no agreement with Iran is binding on Israel”.
Recent reports indicate that Washington and Tehran have made progress in reaching new understandings regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, although the White House denied an interim deal was imminent. The emerging deal is reportedly based on Iran freezing enrichment in its current state and refraining from a “breakthrough” to nuclear capability. In return, Tehran expects that international sanctions spearheaded by the United States will be eased. In the first stage, this would include the releasing of some $20 billion in Iranian assets from frozen bank accounts outside Iran.
Israel has stepped up its military preparations and its sabre-rattling rhetoric in advance of a possible showdown with Iran.
This week, Israel’s military wrapped up a two-week drill focused on a potential multi-front war with Iran and its militia proxies across the Middle East, such as the Lebanese Hizbullah.
The exercises – dubbed “Firm Hand” – included ground forces simulating fighting on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the Air Force carrying out mock air strikes “deep in enemy territory,” Navy operations at sea, intelligence units working around the clock, and cyber units simulating electronic warfare.
At the conclusion of the exercise, Mr Netanyahu said Israel can handle the threat from Iran on its own. Defence minister Yoav Gallant said Israelis did not need to worry themselves with the new hypersonic missile that Iran unveiled this week and that if a war were to break out with Tehran’s proxy, Hizbullah, Israel would send it back to the “stone age.”