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As Bennett meets Biden, IDF ramps up plans for strike on Iran’s nuke program

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The Israel Defense Forces is working full tilt to develop its plans to strike Iran’s nuclear program in light of the Islamic Republic’s ongoing march toward the technology needed for an atomic weapon, and the stalled negotiations between Washington and Tehran on the matter, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi told reporters this week.

“The progress in the Iranian nuclear program has led the IDF to speed up its operational plans, and the defense budget that was recently approved is meant to address this,” Kohavi said, speaking to military correspondents ahead of the Jewish New Year.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a similar threat on Wednesday, telling foreign diplomats that Israel may have to take military action against Iran.

“The State of Israel has the means to act and will not hesitate to do so. I do not rule out the possibility that Israel will have to take action in the future in order to prevent a nuclear Iran,” Gantz said.

“Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. We do not know if the Iranian regime will be willing to sign an agreement and come back to the negotiation table and the international community must build a viable ‘Plan B’ in order to stop Iran in its tracks towards a nuclear weapon,” he added.

Though Iran is believed to be two months away from obtaining the fissile material needed for a bomb, the IDF has assessed that it would take at least several more months from then before Tehran would be capable of producing a deliverable weapon, needing that time to construct a core, perform tests and install the device inside a missile.

The public combative comments by Gantz and Kohavi came shortly after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touched down in Washington for his first in-person meeting with US President Joe Biden and his staff, with Iran’s nuclear program at the top of the agenda.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to reach a ‘longer, stronger and broader’ agreement than the previous one,” Gantz said Wednesday. “The Iranian nuclear program could incite an arms race in the region and the entire world.”

Israel hopes for a fresh nuclear agreement that would see permanent caps on Iran’s uranium enrichment and more robust oversight mechanisms. The IDF believes that the only way to achieve this goal is with a credible threat of a military strike.

The IDF has made this view known to the Pentagon, with which it maintains a close and open relationship, though the US is not actively involved in Israel’s plans, The Times of Israel has learned.

Last month, Bennett, Gantz and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman agreed on a NIS 58 billion ($18 billion) defense budget for the coming year, of which nearly NIS 2 billion ($620 million) is designated for the military’s efforts to confront........

© The Times of Israel

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