Intelligence Minister Israel Katz predicted Tuesday that US President Donald Trump would announce that the US will withdraw from the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, and said that the Iranians would not restart their banned weapons research program for fear of the possible consequences.
“I assess that Trump will announce a cancellation of the Iran nuclear agreement,” Katz told Army Radio. “The Iranians have already proved that they only understand threats and powerful force.”
He declined to say if either he or the Israeli government had any specific information on Trump’s decision, and instead stressed that he was merely offering his opinion.
“Every threat by Iran to restart its nuclear program is empty, because if they go back to enriching uranium they will find themselves facing a terrible threat, a direct attack by the US and other countries, which they can’t withstand.” he said.
Pressed to explain what he knew of a possible US military strike on Iran under those circumstances, Katz responded that “the policy is clear; there is a clear red line on this.”
Trump, he said, is ready to take the kind of action that has only been used against a handful of other countries around the world.
“A really aggressive policy, combined with severe sanctions, is the only way to make a dictatorship that is seeking nuclear [weapons] to back away,” he said.
Katz’s comments came despite reported instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that ministers refrain from talking publicly about the issue. Netanyahu himself has said he does not know whether Trump will withdraw from the deal.
Trump is expected to announce his decision on Tuesday in Washington, DC, at 9 p.m. Israel time.
Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 agreement signed between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany saw heavy economic sanctions lifted in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
Katz also commented on recent reports of Iran’s intention of retaliating for alleged Israeli strikes against Iranian military targets in Syria.
He dismissed comments by fellow cabinet member Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who on Monday threatened that Israel could kill Syrian President Bashar Assad if his regime doesn’t prevent Iranian forces from launching attacks against Israel from his territory. Steinitz later walked back the comments, saying in a statement that he was only “expressing his personal view.”
Israel, Steinitz said, is concerned with preventing an Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and the supply of advanced weapons to Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Israel is believed to be behind multiple recent airstrikes in Syria reportedly targeting weapons shipments.
“I don’t accept what Steinitz said,” Katz declared. “That is not a line laid down by an official entity in Israel. Israel is not interested in a confrontation in Syria.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.