In unusually stark remarks, PM says he appreciates US friendship, but there could be a situation where Tehran’s nuclear threat necessitates ‘brave and independent decisions’
On the eve of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first visit to Israel and neighboring countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made unusually tough remarks regarding Iran, including hinting that Jerusalem could take military action against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites without Washington’s okay.
In a ceremony marking the appointment of incoming Mossad chief David Barnea, and with many Mossad members in attendance, Netanyahu said: “The first task of each one of you is to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons.”
“I very much appreciate our friend the United States, which has been standing by our side for many years. That’s an integral part of our national security,” Netanyahu continued.
“But there could be a situation in which our highest goal — to guarantee that the ayatollahs don’t end the thousands of years of existence of the Jewish people — will require us to take brave and independent decisions,” the premier said.
“In any event — with or without a deal — we will do everything to deny Iran nuclear weapons, because this concerns our very existence.”
Global powers have been meeting in Vienna since early April in a bid to bring Washington back to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which the US left in 2018.
The withdrawal under then-US president Donald Trump and the reimposition of sanctions has led Iran to step up its nuclear activities.
Iran’s parliament speaker said Sunday that international inspectors may no longer access surveillance images of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites, escalating tensions.
Over a year ago, a US drone strike killed a top Iranian general, prompting Tehran to later launch ballistic missiles that wounded dozens of American troops in Iraq.
A mysterious explosion also struck Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which Iran has described as sabotage and blamed on Israel. In November, Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who founded the country’s military nuclear program some two decades earlier, was killed in an attack Tehran also blames on Israel.