Netanyahu: air force key in meeting future Iran threat

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he addresses the Jewish Agency Assembly in Tel Aviv, Israel June 22, 2015. (Reuters)

Days before the deadline for an Iranian nuclear deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told young pilots Thursday that they would be at the forefront of safeguarding the Jewish state.

“Foremost among the threats endangering our security is the Iranian effort to arm itself with a nuclear weapon,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office quoted him as telling newly-graduated pilots receiving their wings.

“Whatever may be, Israel will always defend itself and in that, the part of the air force is a major one,” he said.

Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent of Haaretz newspaper, described Netanyahu’s remarks as “an implied threat to bomb Iran” as the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal looms.

“This agreement is fundamentally damaged,” Netanyahu said in Hebrew. “It leaves in Iran’s hands the path to achieving a nuclear arsenal within a decade.”

Iran denies planning to acquire such weapons and says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

The deal would row back Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions, a prospect Israel has long opposed, to the anger of the United States.

Israel says Iran cannot be trusted to keep its word on a deal and has not ruled out the use of military force.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:55 - GMT 10:55