Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington on Thursday, telling him that action was required "against Iran's aggression in a number of ways, including strenghening the U.S.-led regional coalition."
Austin meanwhile reassured Gantz that the U.S. was working to strengthen its regional coalition and assert its power in the area.
The U.S. officials attending the meeting also made it clear that they were concerned about events involving the Palestinians, noting the violence at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and emphasizing the need for trust-building steps.
Regarding Ukraine, Gantz explained Israel's policy of sending only humanitarian defensive equipment and not weapons as allowing the country to support Ukraine while also maintaining regional stability.
Gantz told Austin that Israel is committed to standing by Ukraine's side and noted Israel's "efforts in relation to this both in terms of humanitarian aid, the mediation led by the prime minister, and the question of non-offensive equipment that Israel is assisting it with, while maintaining its operational security needs in the region, and its stability," an official statement said.
Iran and its proxies are thought to have carried out at least 10 attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. Tehran has meanwhile continued to transfer strategic weapons to its proxies in Iraq and Yemen, alongside slowdown that Israel has observed in its transfer of weapons to Syria.
On the eve of Gantz’s departure for the U.S., he announced that Iran was only weeks away from accumulating enough fissionable material for a nuclear bomb, and is in possession of about 60 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent. Iran is meanwhile also working to complete construction and installation of 1,000 advanced centrifuges in its nuclear facilities, including a new installation near Natanz, and gathering know-how and experience in the development, manufacturing and operation of the centrifuges, Gantz said.
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Despite the dramatic progress in Iran's nuclear program, sources involved in the meetings claimed that the administration had not yet decided to set a deadline for the nuclear talks with Iran. Sources in Israel have warned that Iranian progress will force the United States and its nuclear talk partners into a speedy end to the talks to prevent Tehran from accumulating significant achievement under the auspices of the ongoing dialogue.
In a speech on Tuesday at Reichman University, Gantz called for lessons to be learned from the fighting in Ukraine and applied in Iran. “It is right to use economic, diplomatic and if necessary military might as early as possible, and perhaps in this way to prevent wars,” he said.
On Wednesday, a few hours before Gantz met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, the Israeli Defense Ministry sent a first shipment to Ukraine of defensive equipment, including 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests, which will be given to local emergency services and civilian organizations in Ukraine.