Bombing Iran to stop nuclear program ‘is an option’, says Israel’s foreign minister

Yisrael Katz tells an Italian paper that “the only deterrent is a military threat directed against the regime.”

  By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Friday that Israel’s commitment to prevent a nuclear Iran included risking a war by bombing the Islamic Republic if necessary.

When asked if an airstrike is something that Israel is considering, Katz replied, “Yes, it’s an option. We will not allow Iran to produce or obtain nuclear weapons. If it were the last possible thing to prevent it, we will act militarily.”

He praised the U.S. administration’s efforts against Iran, but added that they would work better if the European Union would cooperate with President Trump.

“We believe that U.S. pressure and sanctions are effective. We expect Iran’s attempts to procure nuclear weapons and support terrorist groups to decline, but this will be easier if there is support from European countries,” he said. “As long as the Iranians delude themselves that they have the support of Europe, it will be more difficult for them to bend.”

He also noted that Iran’s biggest enemies in the Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, work quietly together due to their “common interests.”

“I can’t go into details about the transmission of information, but we have common interests. This allows us to identify and foil any threats we are aware of,” he said.

This includes threats to the Arab states as well.

“Our intelligence information tells us that [Iran] intends to hit the Gulf countries again,” Katz said. “The threat of sanctions is not enough. The only deterrent is a military threat directed against the regime.”

The foreign minister was in Italy for MED 2019, an conference that features high-level discussions on current challenges countries around the Mediterranean are facing.

He noted that his meeting with his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio, had gone “very well,” although they do have a difference of opinion on a subject that again touched on Iran.

Di Maio had recently told the daily that it was time for Europe to talk more with the Syrian regime, a statement that Katz rejected.

“Dialogue with Bashar Assad cannot be resumed as long as Syria allows Iran to use its territory against Israel and moderate Arab states,” he said.

Among the other senior politicians Katz met with in Rome was Matteo Salvini, who heads the right-wing and anti-immigrant League party. Salvini had served as Italy’s deputy prime minister and minister of the interior until the latest round of elections brought him to the opposition in September.