US would defend Israel against Iranian attack, says senior American official

Iran missile

Missile launched during Iranian military drill. (AP/Hadi Yazdani)

The US is not only committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, but would also defend it in the event of an Iranian attack, a senior US official told reporters.

By Lauren Calin, World Israel News

The US will defend Israel if Iran attacks it, a senior American official told reporters anonymously.

The official told the press on Monday that Washington is committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the region and that security cooperation between the two countries remains strong.

“We believe this deal reduces the need for a military attack,” the official said, in reference to the Iranian nuclear agreement. “We understand that the military option is always an option for Israel and the US, but the agreement makes the military option less necessary. But Israel has a right to self-defense, we understand that.”

Regarding the possibility of an Iranian attack on Israel, he said, “We have a relationship of allies, and the word ally has meaning for us. It means that if you are attacked we will defend you as we would a NATO member.”

Noting that Iran threatens Israel in ways other than its nuclear program, the official said, “The sale of F-35 and other systems is critical. This was our way to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge and it will remain so. The agreement with Iran is about its nuclear capabilities and not its conventional capabilities. We ensured the qualitative edge before the agreement and will continue doing so.”

IAF

An IAF F-15 Eagle fighter jet takes off. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

In response to concerns that military sales from the US to Arab states threatened by Iran could erode Israel’s QME, the official said, “There will be no sale of F-35s to any other country in the region except Israel, and [contradictory] reports on that are not true.”

The official also confirmed that no discussions regarding a US “compensation package” of military aid to Israel for the Iranian nuclear deal had taken place. The Israeli government has refused to negotiate on such compensation lest it be interpreted as accepting the agreement. “We talked about increased cooperation in certain areas, but there was no discussion of the package,” he said.

Security cooperation between Israel and the US has remained close, the official stressed. “Defense relations have never been so strong. Despite the political tensions, our relationship remains the cornerstone of our approach to the Middle East. Our relations are unprecedented in terms of their depth. From the level of colonel in the army to the highest levels of the military and political leadership, they are in weekly contact with their Israeli counterparts.”

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