Netanyahu: Iran Must Be Stopped, Even if It Means Conflict – and Better Sooner Than Later

'Nations that were unwilling to act in time against murderous aggression later paid a much heavier price,' prime minister says

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, May 6, 2018.
Emil salman

Israel would be better off confronting Iran sooner rather than later if necessary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, adding that Israel, however, does not seek escalation.

"Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps has been in recent months providing Syria with advanced weapons to attack us, both on the battlefield and on the home front, including attack drones, surface-to-surface missiles, and Iranian anti-aircraft systems that will threaten air force jets," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

>> Despite Iran's threats, Israeli army pushes aggressive line against Tehran in Syria | Analysis

"We are determined to stop Iran's aggression in its early stages, even if it this involves a conflict," he continued. "Better now than later. Nations that were unprepared to take timely action against murderous aggression paid much heavier prices afterwards. We do not want escalation, but we are prepared for any scenario."

The prime minister also said that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin slated for Wednesday was "particularly important in light of Iran's efforts to entrench itself in Syria."  

On Monday, Netanyahu gave a dramatic press conference in which he unveiled a trove of documents and files that he said proved that Iran, a strategic ally of Russia, lied about its nuclear program before signing the deal meant to stop Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The meeting between Putin and Netanyahu is set to occur days before U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce whether he will recertify the Iran nuclear deal. He has declared that he will withdraw unless there are changes, such as limitations on Iran's ballistic missile program.

Earlier this week, U.S. officials told NBC News that a strike on a Syrian military base near Hama was carried out by Israeli F-15 fighter jets after Iran had transferred a shipment of anti-aircraft missiles there. The three officials claimed that Israel seems to be preparing for open warfare with Iran and is seeking U.S. support.