Israel's Gantz Says 'Plan B Must Be Activated' if Iran Nuke Deal Not Reached

The defense minister tells a diplomatic gathering that Israel is 'in a race against time' as Iran continues to enrich Uranium

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz at IDF central command in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at IDF central command in Jerusalem on Thursday.Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that "plan B must be activated" should Iran and Western powers fail to strike a nuclear deal.

Speaking alongside Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during a joint briefing of 80 foreign ambassadors in Herzliya, Gantz said that Iran has continued to enrich Uranium to 60 percent purity, raising its stockpile from 10 kilograms to 50 since last August.

Gantz added that Iran has also continued to develop subterranean nuclear installations and install another cascade at its Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant.

“We are in a race against time,” Gantz told the diplomats. “We want an agreement that has no expiration date, [a deal] that wouldn't give Iran legitimacy to advance in the nuclear program that follows, with extensive oversight anywhere and anytime and oversight of the ballistic missiles that Iran is developing.”

He continued, “There is no vacuum, and if there is no agreement, Plan B must be used: to use force, to exert economic pressure, to exert political pressure.”

According to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Islamic Republic can only enrich uranium to 3.67 percent fissile purity, the level suitable for most civilian nuclear energy and far below the 90 percent suitable for a nuclear weapon.

The United States withdrew from this pact in 2018, and Iran pushed enrichment to 20 percent a year later. In April, the IAEA confirmed that Iran started enriching uranium to 60 percent fissile purity at an above-ground nuclear plant in Natanz.

Gantz added that Israel is “tightening cooperation” with other regional actors “as you saw at the Negev summit” as well as “strengthening cooperation with the U.S. military in the region" via the United States Central Command.

The recent summit, which was held late last month in southern Israel, brought together foreign ministers from Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Egypt. Lapid called it “the right model for regional cooperation in order to fight terrorism and strengthen political ties that will ensure regional stability.”

Speaking at a press conference last week, Lapid similarly said that the summit would become a "regular forum," noting that the coalition of Middle Eastern countries will "deter" Iran and its proxies.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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