The Jewish state has reportedly approved a whopping $1.5 billion budget to prepare the military for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to Israel's Channel 12.
Earmarked specifically to confront Iran, this large chunk of Israel’s total military budget indicates that Jerusalem views the Iranian nuclear threat as an urgent priority. The total defense budget is $18 billion (58 billion shekels).
The $1.5 billion dedicated to the Iranian threat would provide training for complex military operations, various types of aircraft, drones for intelligence gathering and powerful bombs that can penetrate Iran’s fortified underground nuclear installations.
Speaking to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz lobbied for the expanded military defense budget.
“Israel is challenged militarily on many fronts and, therefore, there is great importance to approving a defense budget, following years without a fixed budget, which has – to a certain extent – damaged our ability to act, our ability to have efficient communication, and to build up our forces in a more effective way,” Gantz said.
The United States and European nations had been hoping to revive the controversial Iran nuclear agreement reached in 2015, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018, but President Joe Biden has been eager for America to rejoin.
But with Tehran putting the brakes on negotiations over the past few months – perhaps in an effort to buy time for its nuclear program to reach a point of no return – Washington has also warned that negotiations are not open-ended.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in Washington where they reportedly discussed a “Plan B” for Iran. While the U.S. wants to avoid a military confrontation with Iran, its public support for Israel sends warning signals to Tehran that America’s patience may wear thin.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been warning of the Iranian nuclear threat for two decades. During this time, Jerusalem has sent mixed signals to the world on one hand asking the international community to deal with Tehran while also signaling that it will defend itself against perceived Iranian nuclear threats.
To date, Israel is the only country in the world that has ever successfully destroyed nuclear facilities of an enemy state. In 1981, the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin ordered a strike on Iraq’s Osirak’s nuclear reactor after Saddam Hussein threated to destroy Israel. In 2007, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered a shadow air strike on Syria’s secret nuclear reactor.
Even in the past few years, the Jewish state has been accused of suspicious fires and explosions at Iranian nuclear facilities and the assassination of the nation’s top nuclear scientist a year ago.
A potential strike on Iran’s nuclear assets would be complex due to the fact that Iranian nuclear facilities are spread out, fortified, well-defended, far from Israel and – to a large degree – underground. However, the Jewish state’s air force is believed to have the military capabilities to strike if ordered to do so.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.