Netanyahu Says Sanctions and ‘Credible Military Threat’ Is How to Deal With Iran

The Israeli PM played a major role in the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA in 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that the best way to deal with Iran is with sanctions and a “credible military threat.”

“If you have rogue regimes that are (intending to get) nuclear weapons, you can sign 100 agreements with them, it doesn’t help,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu played a major role in convincing the Trump administration to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. The agreement made Iran’s nuclear program subject to the most stringent inspections in the world and capped its uranium enrichment at 3.67%, vastly below the 90% needed for weapons-grade.

As the Pentagon recently acknowledged in its Nuclear Posture Review, Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon, but it has increased its nuclear activity since the US withdrew from the deal and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. Iran also stepped up uranium enrichment in response to Israeli covert attacks inside the Islamic Republic.

Following the Israeli assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020, Iran’ brought its enrichment up to 20%. Israel was also behind an April 2021 explosion at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which coincided with the US and Iran holding indirect talks on reviving the JCPOA. After the incident, Iran started enriching some uranium at 60%, the highest level they had ever attempted.

Despite the fact that Iran’s heightened nuclear activity is the result of sanctions, covert attacks, and the lack of a nuclear deal, Israeli officials still point to it as evidence Tehran can’t be negotiated with and call for force. “I think the only way that you can stop or abstain from getting nuclear weapons is a combination of crippling economic sanctions, but the most important thing, is a credible military threat,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Often missing from the US and Israeli narrative about Iran is the fact that Israel has a secret nuclear weapons program that is not subject to any inspections. Current estimates put Israel’s arsenal somewhere between 90 and 300 warheads, and every US president since Nixon has agreed not to press Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In 2021, reports said President Biden and Israeli former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett renewed this long-standing agreement. In exchange for not being pressed to sign the NPT, Israel doesn’t declare its nuclear program and operates it in secret.

Netanyahu’s comments come at a time of heightened tensions in the region between the US, Israel, and Iran. Over the weekend, a drone attack inside Iran targeted a military facility in the city of Isfahan. US officials speaking to the media said Israel was behind the attack and emphasized that it came as the US and Israel were discussing ways to counter Iran’s military capabilities.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.