In Tokyo promoting a tougher Iran nuclear deal, Israel’s Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz says that if the U.S. is unable to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Jerusalem will take action “by itself.”
• Israel’s gov’t won’t allow Iran turn Syria into its military base, he added.
Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
Israel is willing to resort to military action to ensure Iran never acquires nuclear weapons, Israel’s intelligence minister said on Thursday in Japan where he is drumming up support for U.S. President Donald Trump’s tougher line on Tehran.
On. Oct. 13, Trump said he would not certify that Iran is complying with an agreement on curtailing its nuclear program, signed by predecessor Barack Obama, opening a 60-day window for Congress to reimpose sanctions.
“If international efforts led these days by U.S. President Trump don’t help stop Iran from attaining nuclear capabilities, Israel will act militarily by itself,” Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said in an interview in Tokyo. “There are changes that can be made [to the agreement] to ensure that they will never have the ability to have a nuclear weapon.”
Israel has taken unilateral action in the past without the consent of its major ally, the United States, including airstrikes on a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 and in Iraq in 1981. A strike against Iran, however, would be a risky venture with the potential to provoke a counter strike and roil financial markets.
An Israeli threat of a military strike could, nonetheless, galvanize support in the United States for toughening the nuclear agreement but it could also backfire by encouraging hardliners in Iran and widening the rift between Washington and European allies.
So far, none of the other signatories to the deal – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran and the European Union – have cited serious concerns, leaving the United States isolated.
Japan relies on the U.S. military to help defend against threats from North Korea and other enemies. Tokyo’s diplomatic strategy in the Middle East, where it buys almost all its oil, is to maintain friendly relations with all countries, including Iran.
“I asked the Japanese government to support steps led by President Trump to change the nuclear agreement,” said Katz, who is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. “The question of whether Japanese companies will begin to work in Iran or not is a very important question.”
Katz’s visit to Tokyo comes ahead of a planned trip by Trump from Nov. 5 for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Officials at Japan’s Foreign Ministry were not immediately available to comment.
Israel wants the nuclear agreement to be revised to remove an expiration date, and to impose tighter conditions to stop Tehran from developing new centrifuges to make weapons-grade nuclear material, Katz said.
He also urged sanctions to stop Iran from establishing Syria as a military base to launch attacks on Israel and action to put a halt to Tehran’s development of ballistic missiles.
“We will not allow Iran to transform Syria into forward base sea harbors, air bases and Shiite militias,” he said. “We will act together with the United States and other countries in the world until they stop the ballistic missiles that threaten Israel.”
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday backed new sanctions on Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militia.
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