Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warns Iran not to test Israel amid mounting tensions • As U.S. President Donald Trump nears decision on Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s supreme leader calls on Muslim nations to unite against “bullying” by U.S. and other enemies.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a stern warning to Iran Thursday amid an onslaught of recent threats from Tehran.
In a rare interview with the the Saudi-owned online news portal, Elaph, Lieberman said: “If Iran attacks Tel Aviv, Israel will attack Tehran,” adding that Israel will not hesitate to confront Iran in Syria if it tries to establish a permanent foothold in the country.
Israel will destroy every Iranian military site in Syria if it becomes a threat to us, regardless of the cost,” Lieberman said.
Earlier this month, a number of Iranian officers, including a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, were killed in a strike on a Syrian base. Foreign media attributed the attack to Israel, and Iranian officials have vowed to avenge this attack with a painful blow to Israel.
Meanwhile, two weeks before the May 12 deadline for the U.S.’s likely withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, Iran’s supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite against the U.S., saying Tehran would never yield to its arch foe’s “bullying.”
“The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. “All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies.”
Also Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron, on a state visit to the U.S., called on Washington not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal as Western envoys said Britain, France and Germany were nearing a package aiming to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to salvage the pact.
Trump has described the 2015 accord, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of economic sanctions, as the worst deal ever negotiated, and has threatened to “shred” it by reimposing U.S. sanctions next month unless its “terrible flaws” are fixed.
Brian Hook, the lead U.S. negotiator with the three European nations trying to keep Trump in the deal before his self-imposed May 12 deadline, told National Public Radio in Washington that “we’re not there yet, but we’ve made some progress.”
Capping a three-day visit to the U.S., France’s Macron told a joint meeting of Congress that the 2015 deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was not perfect but must remain in place until a replacement is forged.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Wednesday that a newly proposed U.S.-European deal on Iran’s nuclear program might dissuade Trump from abandoning the current agreement between world powers and Tehran.
In a radio interview, Katz stopped short of saying whether Israel – which has called for the 2015 nuclear deal to be “fixed or nixed” – backed a separate arrangement put forward by Macron.
Iran’s president on Wednesday ruled out any changes or additions to the 2015 nuclear deal.
“I have spoken with Macron several times by phone, and one time in person at length,” President Hassan Rouhani said. “I have told him explicitly that we will not add anything to the deal or remove anything from it, even one sentence. The nuclear deal is the nuclear deal.”
Speaking at a conference in the northwestern city of Tabriz, Rouhani asserted that Macron has no right to amend an agreement that was signed by seven nations.