Israel Could Accept a U.S.–Iran Nuclear Deal, Defense Minister Gantz Says

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Haaretz
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Defense minister Benny Gantz during a press conference, two months ago.
Defense minister Benny Gantz during a press conference, two months ago.Credit: Emil Salman
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Haaretz

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel would be willing to accept a new nuclear deal between the United States and Iran, marking a shift in the policy led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward Theran.   

In an interview with Foreign Policy on Tuesday, Gantz said he would accept “the current U.S. approach of putting the Iran nuclear program back in a box.”

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According to Gantz, Israel would like to see a "viable U.S.-led plan B" which would include economic sanctions on Iran in case talks falter.

He also hinted that Israel has a military option prepared if necessary. “If push comes to shove, we’ll get there,” Gantz said, “We’re not America, but we have our capabilities.”

Unconvinced by international efforts to force Iran to give up its nuclear program, Gantz stressed that the backup plan must impose diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran by the U.S., EU, Russia, and China. “We have to connect China in this too, Asia has to play a role.”

“Iran has to fear that the U.S. and its partners are serious,” Gantz said.

Opposition Head Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Gantz's interview, saying "Lapid, Bennett, and Gantz are paving the way to a dangerous nuclear agreement."

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was interviewed on Monday by Israel's Channel 12 News and discussed Iran. Bennett said that he had received “a tough legacy,” referring to Netanyahu's policy toward Iran. “Israel inherited a situation in which Iran is at the most advance point ever in the race to a nuclear bomb,” he added.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Iran is one month away from having enough highly enriched uranium for "a single nuclear weapon," adding that this development may increase pressure on the United States to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and world powers.

According to the report, new data from the International Atomic Energy Agency report last week shows that Tehran has gained the capacity to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear weapon, though assembling the nuclear warhead itself will take much longer - months, perhaps even years.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Joe Biden in the White House, last monthCredit: Evan Vucci/AP

Three weeks ago, President Joe Biden said that the United States would have "other measures" to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons if diplomacy fails, after his first meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett since both leader assumed office.

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