US return to Iran nuclear deal would be ‘wrong,’ says Israeli military leader

Aviv Kochavi. (AP/File)
Aviv Kochavi said a US return to the Iran nuclear agreement would be “a wrong thing” to do. (AP/File)
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Updated 27 January 2021

US return to Iran nuclear deal would be ‘wrong,’ says Israeli military leader

US return to Iran nuclear deal would be ‘wrong,’ says Israeli military leader
  • Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi says the option of military action ‘should be on the table’
  • US President Joe Biden has said he plans to return to some form of the 2015 agreement with Tehran, from which Donald Trump withdrew in 2018

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

He added that military action “must be on the table” as he explained his position on the issue, which contrasts with that of new US President Joe Biden.

The agreement with Tehran, more 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 — plus Germany and the EU. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, but Biden has pledged to return to the deal.

“If the 2015 nuclear deal had materialized, Iran would have gotten itself a bomb,” Kochavi said, adding that a US return to the agreement would be “a wrong thing” to do.

Speaking at the annual conference of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies — a leading Israeli think tank — Kochavi said the agreement would allow the Iranian regime to enrich uranium to levels sufficient for the development of a nuclear bomb.

“Strategically, it would presumably lead to the regional nuclearization of the Middle East,” he 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.”


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Kochavi said that Iran’s advanced centrifuge activity and recent advances in uranium enrichment could mean that the regime is “only weeks” away from the production of a nuclear bomb. The the most stringent action possible must be taken to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, he added.

“In light of this fundamental analysis, I have instructed the IDF to draw up a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing plans, and we are working on them diligently and will develop them over the coming year,” Kochavi said.

He added that any decision to act on the IDF’s plans would be made by Israel’s political leadership and that “these plans must be on the table.”

New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — whose appointment to the post was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday — said last week it is “vitally important” that Washington consults with Israel and Gulf states about a potential return to the JCPOA.


He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “whatever its limitations,” the 2015 nuclear deal has been relatively successful in preventing Iran from producing the necessary materials to create nuclear weapons.

“Kochavi’s timeline on which Iran can build nuclear weapons is, to put it mildly, doubtful,” Kyle Orton, an independent geopolitical analyst, told Arab News.

“His statement on the sanctions needing to be maintained because Iran is right on the cusp of serious concessions is simply untrue — the Iranian theocracy has retained all important functions under these sanctions.

“Despite all the Israeli strikes, Iran is entrenched in a way that cannot now be removed and Israel is reduced to striking at targets it has hit three and four and five times before.”

However, Orton said the IDF chief’s “messaging might well work politically in the US to hem in Biden when it comes to the JCPOA.”

He added: “If the US restarts negotiations with Tehran, they will probably only begin after the June (presidential) ‘election’ in Iran.”

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region