Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday told visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that Israel and the U.S. agree on never allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.
“As you know, the U.S.-Israel defense partnership has continually expanded over successive administrations and our cooperation is crucial in dealing with the many threats confronting both the United States and Israel,” Netanyahu said at a press conference alongside Austin.
“In the Middle East, there is no threat that is more serious, more dangerous, more pressing than that posed by the fanatical regime in Iran,” he went on.
“Iran continues to support terrorists around the world in five continents, threatening civilians everywhere. Iran has never given up its quest for nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Iran consistently and outrageously calls for Israel’s annihilation and works towards that goal,” the prime minister said.
“Mr. Secretary, we both know the horrors of war. We both understand the importance of preventing war. And we both agree that Iran must never possess nuclear weapons. My policy as prime minister of Israel is clear — I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel.
Speaking days after an apparent attack on the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility, which Tehran has blamed on Israel, Netanyahu concluded by saying “Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran’s aggression and terrorism,” the prime minister added.
Austin did not explicitly mention Iran, saying instead he wished to “express our desire for earnest consultations with Israel, as we address shared challenges in the region.”
“I am confident that together we can chart a path toward enduring peace in this region and advance open and stable order — now, and in the years ahead,” Austin said.
Austin’s two-day visit marks the first from a senior Biden administration official to Israel.
Days earlier, Netanyahu delivered a sharp rebuke to the Biden administration, warning Israel would not be bound by a renegotiated nuclear deal with Iran that would see the Islamic Republic obtaining a bomb in a few years.
Austin’s arrival coincided with emerging reports about an major power cut in the Natanz nuclear site in Iran.
The power cut, which Iran blamed Israel for and said was an act of “nuclear terrorism,” will set back Tehran’s nuclear program by nine months, according to U.S. intelligence sources.