Monday, April 23, 2018

Netanyahu Vows To Prevent Iran From Getting Nukes As Deadline Nears, Israel Strikes Syrian Army Position After Mortar Shell Hits Golan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated Israel’s position that it will never allow archenemy Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, as US President Donald Trump’s deadline for further Iranian concessions edged closer.
Trump has threatened to tear up the 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear activity, unless it curbs its ballistic missile program by May 12.
“Israel’s policy has not changed since Begin. Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told an audience of diplomats in a speech in Jerusalem, invoking the so-called Begin Doctrine, which calls on the Jewish state to destroy any enemy country’s nuclear capabilities.

The doctrine was named for prime minister Menachem Begin, who set its precedent by ordering the bombing of Iraq’s nascent nuclear reactor in 1981.
Last month, Israel finally acknowledged the second instance it applied that doctrine, admitting that its air force blew up a Syrian nuclear reactor in the area of Deir Ezzor in the pre-dawn hours of September 6, 2007, in a mission known to much of the world as Operation Orchard.
“This is why we opposed so resolutely the Iran deal, because it gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal,” Netanyahu said, speaking in English.
“It allows, over a few years, unlimited enrichment of uranium, the core ingredient required to produce nuclear bombs — and nothing else — and it also does not deal with the ballistic missiles that can deliver this weapon to many, many countries. This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed.”
“It gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal,” he said. “It allows, over a few years, unlimited enrichment of uranium, the core ingredient required to produce nuclear bombs.”

Christopher Ford, US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, said the Islamic republic’s nuclear program remained “dangerously close to rapid weaponization.”

Israel strikes Syrian army position after mortar shell hits Golan

The Israeli army on Monday attacked a Syrian army artillery position after a mortar shell struck the northern Golan Heights, in an apparent case of spillover fighting from Syria’s civil war, the army said.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, the mortar shell exploded near the border fence earlier on Monday. It appeared to have been fired at Israel accidentally during fighting between Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s military and rebel groups in the region.
In response, the Israeli military targeted an artillery cannon belonging to Assad’s army, which was in the same area of the Syrian Golan Heights from which the mortar shell was fired, the IDF said.

As a rule, Israel targets Assad’s army in retaliation to any attack coming out of Syria, regardless of who was behind it and whether it was unintentional or deliberate.
“The IDF sees the Syrian regime as responsible for every action in its territory and will not tolerate violations of the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its citizens,” the army said in a statement.
The minor exchange came during a period of increased tension along the northern border as Jerusalem and Tehran continue to trade verbal blows following a deadly airstrike on an alleged Iranian facility in central Syria, which has been attributed to the Israeli Air Force. Israel officially will not comment on the strike.
Once frequent, these types of spillover fire incidents have waned in recent months, in light of a ceasefire between Assad and the rebels.
However, as the dictator takes control over the last pockets of rebel resistance elsewhere in Syria, he is expected to turn his sights on the Syrian Golan Heights.
This is of particular concern to Israel, which borders the region, as Iran and its proxies are liable to fight with Assad against the Golan rebels and potentially use the area as an additional front from which to carry out attacks against the Jewish state.

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