Netanyahu warns Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Iran that Israel’s F-35 aircraft “can reach anywhere in the Middle East”.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made the comment yesterday when he visited the Nevatim Air Force Base. He met with Israel Defence Force Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, head of the Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin and a forum of air force commanders.

Netanyahu said: “I am on an impressive tour of the air force base. I see all of our weapons systems and planes. Here behind me is the ‘Adir’, the F-35. Recently, Iran has been threatening the destruction of Israel. It would do well to remember that these planes can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and certainly Syria.”

Iranian officials regularly threaten to destroy Israel and last week, Mojtaba Zolnour, who in the past served as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s envoy to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and currently the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told Iranian state TV that “if the US attack us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan”.

Britain, Germany and France – the European signatories of the JCPOA nuclear deal – continue to express concern over Iranian violations of the deal. A joint statement by the three foreign ministers issued yesterday said: “These compliance issues must be addressed within the framework of the JCPOA, and a Joint Commission should be convened urgently. Iran has stated that it wants to remain within the JCPOA. It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPOA compliance without delay.”

Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, has told the BBC that Iran will stay in the nuclear deal for now, but would move to the “third phase” of its stepped-up uranium enrichment programme unless the Europeans kept promises to uphold the economic benefits of the agreement.

“We have said we are not going to honour the [uranium enrichment] cap of 3.67 per cent,” the ambassador said. “What will happen in the third phase we have not said it yet, but if we reach to that point, definitely we will announce beforehand.” It is reported that Iran may increase uranium enrichment levels to as much as 20 per cent.