Iran is greatest threat in Middle East, Israel will continue to ‘defend itself:’ PM

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran has never given up efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and that Israel will not allow Tehran to build them.

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The Israeli leader, addressing reporters with visiting US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at his side, made no comment about Iran’s accusation that Israel had sabotaged its key Natanz nuclear site.

“Iran has never given up its quest for nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them,” Netanyahu said. “I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of elminating Israel.”

Iran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Austin arrived in Israel on Sunday on the first visit by a senior representative of the Biden administration, whose stance on Iran has worried Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Washington has sought to reassure Israel on regional security issues while restarting talks - so far indirect and inconclusive - about a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran that the previous Trump administration quit.

Israel has long been critical of the deal that it sees as putting a temporary cap on Iranian nuclear capabilities that would pave the way to Tehran producing bombs in the long run. It has said it would not be bound by the diplomacy.

Israel and Iran have in recent weeks reported sabotage to their ships at sea. Syria has accused Israel of air strikes on its territory. Israel says it is trying to stem a build-up of Iranian forces within next-door Syria.

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