Israel Conferred With U.S. Before Recent Iran Strikes, NYT Reports

Iranian military official warns of a 'heavy price' against aggression, as Israel and U.S. discuss joint action amid stalling nuclear talks

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Naftali Bennett and President Biden at the White House in August.
Naftali Bennett and President Biden at the White House in August.Credit: Evan Vucci / AP

Israel consulted with the Biden administration before launching two covert strikes against Iran, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

American and Israeli officials who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity, referred to Israeli strikes in September against a missile base and one in June against an Iranian factory building nuclear centrifuges.

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Also on Saturday, a top Iranian military official warned of a "heavy price" for aggressors, state media said, after a report of U.S. and Israeli plans for possible military drills to prepare for strikes against Iran's nuclear sites if diplomacy fails.

"Providing conditions for military commanders to test Iranian missiles with real targets will cost the aggressors a heavy price," Nournews, affiliated with Iran's top security body, said on Twitter, citing an unnamed military official.

The New York Times reported that the targeted building in June, near the city of Karaj, “was one of Iran’s main manufacturing centers for the production of the centrifuges used at the country’s two nuclear facilities, Fordow and Natanz.” The Times noted that the factory “was on a list of targets that Israel presented to the Trump administration early last year.”

The report says that Israeli officials had been happy with the warm welcome the White House offered Mr. Bennett, and that the Biden administration in turn has praised his government for being far more transparent with it than Mr. Netanyahu had been, citing the close consultation regarding Iran as an example.

However, disagreement over how best to deal with Iran have provoked tension and frustration between American and Israeli officials, including regarding Israeli strikes on Iranian facilities. While the Bennett government argues that the strikes have set back the program, some in the United States believe they actually encourage the Iranians to rebuild the nuclear enrichment facilities with more efficient, up-to-date equipment.

Although the Bennett government will not criticize the American president in public as Netanyahu did during the Obama administration, Israeli officials privately argue that the Iranians are advancing their nuclear program with the safe assumption that the United States, eager to reduce American commitments in the Middle East, will not abandon the Vienna talks for more forceful action.

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