Jan 20, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has instructed the military to outline a new plan to counter the Iranian threat. The move was prompted by recent indications Tehran plans to accelerate work on its nuclear program.

The IDF’s Strategy and Third Circle Directorate, more commonly known as the Iran directorate, has been tasked with forming three alternatives to undermine Iran’s nuclear efforts or, if need be, counter Iranian aggression, which will soon be presented to the government.

The effort entails adding billions of shekels to the defense budget.

While Iran has indicated it would like to negotiate a new nuclear deal with the incoming U.S. administration in lieu of the pact from which President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, it has recently made several moves that could allow it to significantly cut the time needed to develop a nuclear weapon should the ayatollahs decide to make a dash for it.

Israeli Military Intelligence believes that once Tehran gives the order, it could form a fully-functioning military nuclear site within a year.

“Iran has made progress in recent years in terms of research and development, both on enriched material and offensive capabilities, and has a regime that really wants nuclear weapons,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Israel Hayom.

“It is clear that Israel needs to have a military option on the table. It requires resources and investment, and I am working to make that happen,” he added.

Iran’s recent moves, including amassing low-grade enriched uranium, installing advanced centrifuges, expanding several nuclear facilities, beginning to enrich uranium to 20 percent and, most recently, announcing plans to produce uranium metal for reactor fuel, mean the Islamic Republic’s array of nuclear assets is growing.

Israel believes the ayatollahs plan to use these assets as leverage when negotiating with the Biden administration, and has warned that resuming the conditions detailed in the 2015 nuclear accord would be a calamity.

Israel wants a future agreement with Iran to include a longer period of oversight of its nuclear programs, as well as restrictions on nuclear research and development, missile development and production, as well as curb its terrorist activities in the region.

Jerusalem officials said Israel plans to spare no effort vis-à-vis the United States to ensure a better deal is crafted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to name a special point-person to head these efforts. Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, who is slated to retire in June, is considered to be a likely choice.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.