U.S, Israeli security officials to form joint task force on Iran missile threat

“The United States and Israel agreed on the significant threat posed by Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region,” said the White House in a statement.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Senior U.S. and Israeli security officials will join forces to mitigate the threat of Iranian missiles and drones, even as U.S.-Iran nuclear talks continue, said the White House in a statement on Tuesday.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met in Washington, D.C. with Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat to discuss “a range of regional issues,” including the progress of the Vienna nuclear talks, the statement said.

After the meeting, the U.S. and Israel announced their intention to “establish an inter-agency working group to focus particular attention on the growing threat of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Precision Guided Missiles produced by Iran and provided to its proxies in the Middle East Region.”

Though the longtime regional partners have disagreed about the best means to do so, the U.S. in Israel both share a strategic interest in mitigating Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

In April, an Iranian-backed militia was believed to be behind the first-ever unmanned drone strike on a U.S. air base in northern Iraq.

In recent months, the American embassy in Baghdad and U.S. military bases throughout Iraq have been struck by rocket fire in what is thought to be an Iranian-backed campaign.

“The United States and Israel agreed on the significant threat posed by Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region, and U.S. officials underscored President Biden’s unwavering support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” the statement continued.

The statement also said that the “U.S. strongly condemned the recent indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel” and reiterated the Biden administration’s two-state solution policy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The meeting between Sullivan and Ben-Shabbat came after initial fears that Biden was distancing the U.S. from Israel, as he failed to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for weeks after taking office.

But in a sign of warming ties, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Israel earlier in April.

After meeting with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz, Austin tweeted, “I’m committed to continuing our close consultations on threats posed by Iran and to strengthening Israel’s security.”