March 29, 2023

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Top Israeli, Pentagon Officials Agree on Need to ‘Prevent Iran From Gaining a Nuclear Weapon’

The statements by both nations’ defense ministries announcing the meeting were typically vague about the details, but noted that US Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff; Israeli Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces; and Israeli Defense Ministry Yoav Gallant, along with other Israeli security officials, met at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv.It is believed they also discussed recent events in the West Bank, including IDF military operations and a riot in Nablus by Jewish settlers that targeted Palestinian homes and businesses.Earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN-connected nuclear watchdog, reported it had detected uranium refined to 83.7% U-235 at Iran’s Fordow refining facility. The revelations set off alarm bells across the region, since Iran had previously only admitted to refining uranium to 60% purity, and since the lower threshold for a usable nuclear bomb is roughly 90% purity.However, the report only spoke of “particles,” not large stocks of such high purity, although that nuance has largely escaped reports in the Western press.Israel has long pledged to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, claiming Tehran would be most likely to use it against them, and in that mission they have strong US support. However, the White House has so far seen the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 2015 deal that arrested Iran’s refinement capabilities in exchange for the lowering of economic sanctions, as the best way to prevent that. The US pulled out of that deal in 2018 and has struggled to revive it, with Iran saying it was the US that was refusing to return to the deal. Jerusalem has been more skeptical, with orders given in late 2021 to prepare for a military operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities should it become necessary.However, there is tension between Washington and Jerusalem, too, with the Biden administration positioning itself against several right-wing members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.One, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionist Party, called for the IDF to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara, the target of last week’s settler riot. The White House has urged Netanyahu to disavow Smotrich’s comments. After Netanyahu added Smotrich and his ally, Jewish Power leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, to his coalition late last year, the Israeli leader claimed he could keep the two on a tight leash.Original News :

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