US, Israel warn Iran of force
Tehran cautioning Jerusalem tests anti-missile defences
WASHINGTON, Oct 14: US President Joe Biden's administration hinted Wednesday it could resort to force if diplomacy fails on Iran's nuclear program, rallying more closely than ever behind warnings by Israel.
Amid a standstill in negotiations with Iran, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced growing frustration as he held three-way talks with the top diplomats of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, US allies that established relations last year amid shared alarm about Tehran.
Blinken renewed Biden's offer to re-enter a 2015 nuclear agreement, trashed by former president Donald Trump, in which Iran drastically scaled back nuclear activity in return for unfulfilled promises of sanctions relief. "We continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way. We are prepared to turn to other options if Iran doesn't change course," Blinken said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was more explicit, saying that both he and Blinken, as sons of Holocaust survivors, "know there are moments when nations must use force to protect the world from evil." "If a terror regime is going to acquire a nuclear weapon, we must act. We must make clear the civilized world won't allow it," Lapid said.
Separately, Iran warned Israel in a letter to the UN Security Council chief Thursday against any attack on its nuclear facilities after its arch-foe declared its right to use force. "We warn the Zionist regime against any miscalculation or military adventure targeting Iran and its nuclear programme," Iran's ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote in the letter published by the Tasnim news agency.
He accused Israel of taking its "provocative and adventurous threats... to alarming levels" and said that the "systematic and explicit threats by the Zionist regime... prove that it is responsible for terrorist attacks against [Iran's] peaceful nuclear programme in the past".
The Iranian military said Wednesday it had successfully tested anti-missile defences for "sensitive" sites during war games in central Iran, after Israeli and US warnings over its nuclear programme. "The country's air defences are perfectly prepared to protect sensitive and vital installations through a multi-layered defence system," said General Amir-Qader Rahimzadeh, commander of Hazrat Khatam al-Anbiya airbase at Semnan, quoted by Fars news agency.
The exercises, which began on Tuesday, combined the army's "Majid" defence system with the "Dezful" system of the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps to destroy incoming cruise missiles. Iran's central region is home to the Natanz enrichment plant and other nuclear sites. -AFP