The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi said on Tuesday that it would be a strategic mistake for the United States (US) to return to the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking at an annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference, Kochavi warned that Iran had developed advanced centrifuges that could allow it to build a nuclear warhead in months, if not “only weeks.”

“The Iran deal would still allow the Islamic Republic to break out to a nuclear weapon in 2030 when the agreement expires,” Kochavi said. “The US and others must maintain all sanctions and pressure because Tehran is at its weakest and closest to making real concessions.”

He said that the US re-entering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would be a misstep.

The agreement with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015 by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, Russia, the UK and the US — as well as Germany and the EU. Former US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. However, President Joe Biden has pledged to return to the deal.

The IDF chief, disagreeing with Biden’s stance, said that military action “must be on the table.”

“Strategically, it would presumably lead to the regional nuclearisation of the Middle East,” Kochavi said. “For that reason, anything resembling the current agreement is bad and must not be permitted. The Iran of today is not the Iran of 2015. Today, Iran is under enormous pressure, economic pressures. That must be maintained in every way, whatever happens.”

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Richard Mills announced that the new US administration believes in “ensur[ing] Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.”

“Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” he said.


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