Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned that Israel will do “everything” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran whether or not the US returns to the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
The latest threat from Netanyahu comes as the US and Iran are set to start their fifth round of indirect negotiations in Vienna to revive the JCPOA. Iranian officials have reported good progress, but the US has downplayed the idea that an agreement will be reached soon.
“With or without an agreement, we will do everything to prevent Iran from arming itself with a nuclear weapon, because that is our existence,” Netanyahu said at an award ceremony for agents of Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
Israeli officials claim the JCPOA is a path to a nuclear-armed Iran because it has an expiration date. But that ignores that after the JCPOA, Iran would still be bound by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refuses to sign due to its secret nuclear weapons program.
Since the Vienna talks started, Israel has taken covert action against Iran to sabotage the negotiations. In April, Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility was targeted in an apparent Israeli attack that led to the Iranians increasing some uranium enrichment to 60 percent.
Israeli covert action almost always leads to Iran increasing the activity of its civilian nuclear program, which Israel uses as evidence that Tehran is racing to develop a bomb. If Israel were really concerned with Iran’s nuclear activity, it would favor a revival of the JCPOA since the agreement has strict limitations and subjects Iran to the most stringent nuclear inspections in the world.
Netanyahu’s comments come as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to the region to discuss the latest violence in Gaza. Israel’s 11-day bombing campaign in Gaza killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children.