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IDF chief vows Israel will further target Iran, including its nuclear program

‘Operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue,’ Aviv Kohavi says; outgoing intel chief: Islamic Republic is stable but history shows ‘what becomes of such dark regimes’

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a ceremony on the Israel Navy's Haifa Base, on September 2, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a ceremony on the Israel Navy's Haifa Base, on September 2, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi vowed on Tuesday to continue military operations to counter Iran’s military capabilities, including its nuclear program.

“Operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue, in any arena and at any time, and the operational plans against Iran’s nuclear program will continue to be developed and improved,” Kohavi said during a ceremony for new Military Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva.

Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman, the outgoing intelligence chief, said that the Islamic Republic was currently stable but predicted it would eventually fall.

“Although it is an unjust totalitarian regime, which oppresses its citizens and will end up falling, it is stable for now,” he said.

“History has taught us what becomes of such dark regimes,” Hayman added.

Talks between Iran and world powers over limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief have been idle since June. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday that Iran foresees talks with world powers aimed at reviving its nuclear deal resuming by early November.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report that Iran had quadrupled its stockpile of 60-percent enriched uranium since May. It also said that verification and monitoring activities have been “seriously undermined” since February, after Iran refused to let inspectors access IAEA monitoring equipment.

TV cameras in front of the ‘Grand Hotel Vienna’ where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on June 20, 2021. (Florian Schroetter/AP)

Major powers are losing patience, months after the suspension of negotiations that had begun in April in Vienna, under the aegis of the European Union, to try to resurrect the international agreement of 2015.

The United States is close to abandoning its efforts, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in September.

The Islamic Republic has been gradually freeing itself from its nuclear obligations since 2019, in response to then-US president Donald Trump’s reinstatement of sanctions.

Israel has repeatedly warned that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly opposed the 2015 deal, which it said would pave the way to an Iranian nuclear arsenal, and publicly urged US President Joe Biden to steer clear of attempts to reenter the deal.

Meeting with Biden at the White House last month, current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of the “nightmare” of a radical Islamic regime attaining nuclear weapons, and Biden publicly vowed that the US would “never” allow Iran to attain the bomb.

Iran has repeatedly accused Israel of sabotaging its nuclear sites and killing a number of its scientists.

On Saturday, Iran urged the United Nations atomic agency to clearly condemn a “sabotage” attack on a nuclear facility west of Tehran that it has accused Israel of carrying out.

Tehran says that, on June 23, it had thwarted the attack on the building belonging to its own nuclear agency near Karaj, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital.

The alleged Karaj centrifuge parts plant near Karaj, Iran, seen in a photo posted online by Google user Edward Majnoonian, in May 2019. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

At the time, it did not identify the nature of the attack, with state television saying only that “saboteurs failed to carry out their plan.”

On Sunday, Iran’s atomic agency chief Mohammad Eslami said that the UN watchdog and Western powers had failed to condemn the “terrorist act” that “severely damaged” the site.

“The latest act of sabotage by the occupation regime in Jerusalem against our country’s nuclear program was the terrorist attack on the TESA complex in Karaj,” the official IRNA news agency said in a report.

It repeats Eslami’s accusation that the site was targeted by Israel, adding that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency “must therefore clarify its position on this incident.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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