Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he was prepared to risk tensions with the United States if that was what was needed to neutralize Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
The besieged prime minister, whose political future is in question just 11 days from a deadly war, said Israel’s greatest threat remains the possibility of a nuclear-weaponized Iran. He said Israel was ready to prevent this from happening even if the United States and other nations succeeded in restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“If we have to choose, I hope it doesn’t happen, between friction with our great friend the United States and eliminating the existential threat – eliminating the existential threat,” Netanyahu said.
He spoke at a ceremony for David Barnea, the new head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency. Iran has accused Israel of being behind a number of attacks killing Iranian nuclear scientists or sabotaging Iranian nuclear facilities.
Further discussions on the subject were expected this week when Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits Washington. He is due to meet with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Iran and regional stability.
Netanyahu’s comments come amid ongoing talks in Vienna between nations seeking to update and reinstate the 2015 deal, in line with President Joe Biden’s election promise. His predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018 and imposed sanctions on Tehran.
The deal places restrictions on Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.
Netanyahu strongly opposes the deal, arguing that he does not have enough guarantees to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Israel also says the deal must address Iran’s support for militant groups, its military actions in the region, and its development of long-range missiles capable of hitting Israel.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only and says the nuclear deal should be reinstated without any changes.
Netanyahu spoke about Iran on Tuesday as his rivals in the Knesset huddled together to try to form a coalition government that would end Netanyahu’s 12-year rule.
The developments come amid a fragile truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip after a brutal 11-day war that killed more than 250 people, most of them Palestinians.
Hamas, which opposes Israel’s right to exist and is viewed as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and other Western countries, receives millions of dollars in military aid each year from the United States. Iran.