Ya’alon: US-Israeli dispute over Iran deal is over

Defense minister says with accord finalized, allies must put differences behind them and ‘look to the future’

Ashton Carter, left, and Moshe Ya'alon, right, at the National Defense University in Washington, DC on October 27, 2015. ( Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)
Ashton Carter, left, and Moshe Ya'alon, right, at the National Defense University in Washington, DC on October 27, 2015. ( Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Disputes between Israel and the US over the Iran nuclear deal are over, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Wednesday.

“The Iran deal is a given,” Ya’alon said at a news conference in Washington with his US counterpart Ash Carter. “Our disputes are over. And now we have to look to the future.”

Carter said the deal completed in July between Iran and six world powers removes Iran’s nuclear threat, calling it “just one source of uncertainty and risk.” He added that Iran must comply with the deal or face a military threat from the United States, the Defense Department’s Defense News reported.

“I’m under instructions from President Obama to make sure the military option remains intact,” Carter said.

Ya’alon conducted two days of meetings with Carter at the Pentagon this week.

The Israeli defense chief said the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, could keep Iran’s nuclear program at bay for as much as 15 years. After that, he said, “we will again be dealing with a potential military nuclear Iran. And we must be ready.”

Carter and Ya’alon told reporters that they discussed ways that Washington will support Israel’s enhanced security requirements due to unrest in the region.

Carter reaffirmed the US commitment to Israel’s security and Ya’alon said Israel has “no greater friend than the United States of America.”

In a joint appearance on Tuesday at Fort McNair, Carter reiterated Washington’s “iron clad” commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge, and said it would continue to make advance capabilities available to Israel, such as the F-35 stealth fighter.

This week former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani admitted that the the country’s nuclear program was started with the intent of building a nuclear weapon, Iranian dissidents said.

The reported comments by Rafsanjani to the state-run IRNA news agency would appear to mark the first time a top Iranian official — current or former — has said the country sought a nuclear weapon, in contravention of repeated assurances by the regime that its enrichment program is and always has been peaceful.

Rafsanjani said the program was begun while the country was at war with Iraq in the 1980s with the express consent and participation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to NCRI.

“Our basic doctrine was peaceful usage of the nuclear technology although we never abandoned the idea that if one day we are threatened and it is imperative, we would have the capability for going the other path [to nuclear weapon] as well,” Rafsanjani reportedly said.

Rafsanjani, 80, served as Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997 and remains influential in Iranian politics despite suffering setbacks in recent years. He is now considered a moderate close to the reformist camp.

He was barred from running in the 2013 presidential election but threw his support behind moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani, who eventually won.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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