The military chief of Israel has warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, even if it toughens its terms, adding he’s ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran during the coming year.
According to a report by Associated Press, the comments by Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi came as Israel and Iran both seek to put pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of his expected announcement on his approach for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.
Biden has said he will seek to revive the deal, with some changes. Antony Blinken, the U.S. president’s nominee for the secretary of state, said Biden wants to work with allies on the Iran issue.
In his address to the Institute for National Security Studies, Kohavi said a return to the deal, even with some improvements, “is bad operationally and it is bad strategically.” He said allowing Iran to proceed with a nuclear program would be “an unacceptable threat and will lead to nuclear proliferation across the region.” Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Kohavi said that given the threat posed by Iran, Israel’s military would be prepared to attack on its own if needed.
“I instructed the army to prepare a number of operational plans in addition to the existing ones,” he said. “We are taking care of these plans and will develop them during the coming year. Those who decide on carrying them out, of course, are the political leaders. But these plans have to be on the table.”
Just hours before Kohavi spoke against a deal, Iran prodded Biden to rejoin the atomic accord. “The window of opportunity will not be open for long,” said Iran’s Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei.
Tensions around Iran have steadily increased. During Trump’s final days as president, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.