Iran remains the largest threat to Israel, surpassing even terror groups Hamas and Islamic State, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday, days after world leaders touted the year-old deal with Tehran over its nuclear program as having successfully made the world safer.
“No other country faces so many threats: the Islamic State in Sinai, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and al-Qaeda in Syria, but above all of these is Iran,” Liberman said in his first briefing as defense minister before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Despite signing a nuclear deal with world powers aiming to scale back its nuclear program, Iran “continues to develop its military missile program with full force,” Liberman charged.
“You don’t need to guess what the target of these missiles are. We’ve seen the missiles paraded in Tehran bearing messages calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth,” he added.
On Thursday, US and European leaders hailed the one-year anniversary of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, saying the agreement had proven itself.
“A program that so many people said will not work, a program that people said is absolutely doomed to see cheating and be broken and will make the world more dangerous, has, in fact, made the world safer, lived up to its expectations, and thus far produced an ability to be able to create a peaceful nuclear program with Iran living up to its part of this bargain and obligation,” US Secretary of State John Kerry, one of the architects of the agreement, said Thursday.
Israel was one of the most strident critics of the deal, arguing that it rolls back key sanctions but fails to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon or require that the Islamic Republic stop funding terror.
Liberman also criticized the United Nations Security Council for “ignoring key Iranian violations” of the agreement, referring to ballistic missile tests Iran claims are allowed under the deal.
Since the signing of the agreement in July last year, Iran has conducted four ballistic missile tests. In a March test launch, the ICBMs reportedly bore the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them in Hebrew.
An Iranian commander said at the time the test was designed to demonstrate to Israel, whose destruction Iran seeks, that it is within Iranian missile range.
Though not outlawed by the 2015 agreement, the launches violate United Nations resolution 2231 from that same year, banning Tehran from ballistic missiles testing for eight years.
Last week, Iran said it would continue its ballistic missile program even after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the missile tests were not in the spirit of the nuclear deal.
Alluding to a series of wars with Hezbollah and Hamas over the past decade that have produced an uneasy detente, Liberman also signaled he would seek a more aggressive approach on the battlefield.
“Our enemies are planning their next campaign against innocent civilians,” he said. “This is why the civilian front is a much higher priority for us,” he said. “That being the case, when we are faced with this type of confrontation, we must end it with resolute action.”
“Those are the key words,” Liberman said. “We need to eliminate any desire and motivation to involve themselves with us a second time.”