Army Chief: Israel has ‘moral obligation’ to prepare for war with Iran

Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi’s comments come after a top Iranian official said Tehran could make a nuclear bomb. 

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Israel has a “moral obligation” to prepare for war with Iran, hours after a senior Iranian official warned that Tehran is “technically capable” of manufacturing a nuclear bomb.

“Preparing the home front for war is a task that must be accelerated in the coming years, especially in light of the possibility that we will be required to act against the nuclear threat,” Kochavi said on Sunday evening during a ceremony marking the change of the head of the Home Front Command.

“The IDF continues to prepare vigorously for an attack on Iran and must prepare for any development and any scenario,” he said. “Preparing a military option against the Iranian nuclear program is a moral obligation and a national security order.”

The military chief added that the nuclear threat was “at the center” of the IDF’s operational plans, which include “the allocation of many resources, the acquisition of appropriate weapons, intelligence and training.”

Earlier on Sunday, Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, told the Al Jazeera Arabic network that Iran has the “technical means” to produce a nuclear bomb but has not yet decided whether to build it.

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The declaration marked the first clear Iranian admission of nuclear capability and is a departure from Washington’s ambiguity, which maintains that Tehran may not have the know-how to build a bomb.

Until now, Iran has steadfastly denied that it seeks to acquire nuclear weapons and has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful means only.

“In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium,” Kharrazi, who is the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, told Al Jazeera.

He also warned that Tehran would “directly respond” to Israel if its “sensitive facilities” were targeted.

Iran has blamed Israel for a series of unexplained blasts at Iranian nuclear sites over the past two years.

Negotiations to return to the tattered nuclear deal with the U.S. are difficult due because of a “thick wall of distrust” between the two sides, the Khamenei aide said.

The Biden administration has asserted that the current crisis was inherited from the Trump administration’s “reckless” decision to withdraw from the deal in 2018. According to administration officials, the accord had been “working” until then, despite mountains of evidence provided by Israel that showed Tehran to be in direct breach of its terms

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Speaking from Jerusalem last week, President Joe Biden reiterated his view that negotiations aimed at resurrecting the deal was the optimal way to stop Iran for becoming nuclear.

“I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way,” Biden said at a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Lapid, for his part, disagreed: “Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

Kochavi on Sunday echoed Lapid.

“Blocking Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon with diplomacy is preferred, but history has proven many times that diplomacy can fail or succeed for only a short period of time, followed by violation or betrayal,” Kochavi said.

“First, if there is no agreement and the Iranian nuclear program continues to expand, and the second, in case there is an agreement identical or similar to the previous deal, which means a bad deal, giving Iran the conditions to become a nuclear state shortly after its expiration date,” he said.