World

Israel willing to use force to ensure Iran never gets nukes

TOKYO: Israel is willing to resort to military action to ensure Iran never acquires nuclear weapons, the Intelligence Minister said yesterday in Japan, where he is seeking backing for US President Donald Trump's tougher line on Teheran.

Mr Trump said on Oct 13 he would not certify Iran is complying with an agreement on curtailing its nuclear programme, signed by Mr Barack Obama, opening a 60-day window for Congress to act to reimpose sanctions.

"If international efforts led these days by Mr Trump don't help stop Iran attaining nuclear capabilities, Israel will act militarily by itself," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said in an interview in Tokyo.

He said changes can be made to the agreement "to ensure they will never have the ability to have a nuclear weapon".

Israel has taken unilateral action in the past without the consent of its major ally, the US, including air strikes on a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007. But a strike against Iranhas the potential to provoke a counter strike and roil markets.

The Israeli threat could still galvanise support in the US for toughening the agreement, but it may backfire by widening a rift between Washington and European allies.

So far, none of the other signatories - Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Iran and the European Union - has cited serious concerns, leaving the US isolated. Japan relies on the US military to help defend it against threats from North Korea and elsewhere. Its diplomatic strategy in the Middle East, where it buys almost all its oil, is to maintain friendly relations with all countries.

Mr Katz has asked Tokyo to support changing the nuclear deal, and said the question of whether or not Japanese companies will work in Iran is very important. - REUTERS

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