JERUSALEM, June 30 (Reuters) – Israel is not nearing an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser said on Friday, as talks between Tehran and Washington have sought to cool tensions.
Tzachi Hanegbi said it was still unclear what will come of talks Israel’s main ally the United States has held with Iran in recent weeks in an effort to outline steps that could limit Teheran’s nuclear program and de-escalate tensions.
Nonetheless, no agreement would obligate Israel, which views a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, Hanegbi told Channel 13 television. Asked whether an Israeli decision on a preemptive strike against Iran was any closer, Hanegbi said:
“We are not getting closer because the Iranians have stopped, for a while now, they are not enriching uranium to the level that in our view is the red line.”
Hanegbi added: “But it can happen. So we are preparing for the moment, if it comes, in which we will have to defend the people of Israel against a fanatic regime that is set on annihilating us and is armed with weapons of mass destruction.”
Netanyahu has set a “red line” on Iran’s uranium enrichment at bomb-grade 90% fissile purity. Iran has ramped up enrichment to 60% purity in recent years.
Having failed to revive a 2015 nuclear deal that had capped Tehran’s enrichment at 3.67%, Iranian and Western officials have met to sketch out steps that could curb its fast advancing nuclear work.
The 2015 agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment to make it harder for Tehran to develop the means to produce nuclear arms. Iran denies it has such ambitions.
Then-U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the pact in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Tehran responded by gradually moving well beyond the deal’s enrichment restrictions.
(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Daniel Wallis)