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Israel worried about Iranian nuclear breakout, re-establishes working groups to deal with the threat – report

Axios: Iran could use attention on US elections to jump forward to nuclear breakout

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visits Iranian centrifuges in Tehran, Iran, June 11, 2023. (Photo: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA via REUTERS)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel’s security system to re-establish six working groups focusing on the threat of an Iranian nuclear breakout, the Axios news site reported on Thursday.

According to the report, the National Security Council will manage the groups under Netanyahu’s close confidante Tzachi Hanegbi. One of them will reportedly be led by Israel's foreign intelligence agency Mossad and focus on the nuclear program and efforts to weaponize it.

Another team will be led by the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet and will scrutinize Iranian operations to influence Israeli society, which has been increasing over the past year, an Israeli official told Axios.

The other teams will deal with coordinating intelligence and cyber operations against Iran, and monitor Iran’s activity in the broader region, including Hezbollah, the Yemeni Houthis and other militias.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions have allegedly gained renewed attention in recent months, as Israel and the United States fear the regime intends to accelerate its nuclear program while global focus is diverted by the U.S. elections and the lead-up to them.

Israeli and U.S. officials told Axios that the U.S. leadership’s divided attention between the campaign, the war in Gaza, and a potential showdown in Lebanon, could prevent it from reacting quickly to Iranian nuclear advances.

Another such sensitive period will be the transition period after the U.S. elections.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared new sanctions against Iran on Thursday because of its “continued nuclear escalations.”

“Over the past month, Iran has announced steps to further expand its nuclear program in ways that have no credible peaceful purpose,” Blinken stated. “We remain committed to never letting Iran obtain a nuclear weapon, and we are prepared to use all elements of national power to ensure that outcome.”

The American move follows a statement by the G7 nations earlier this month, cautioning Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and threatening sanctions should the regime transfer ballistic missiles to Russia.

Last week, Axios reported that Israeli officials expressed concerns about computer modeling and other scientific experiments conducted by Iranian scientists, which could potentially be used for nuclear weaponization.

In that same context, Yaakov Nagel, a former Israeli national security advisor and now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Axios the Iranian regime was busy advancing nuclear technical processes “under an academic umbrella.”

Nagel said several dozen Iranian scientists have been working on this in recent months while “pushing the envelope” of experiments that can have civilian uses.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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