Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi, has reportedly warned the US against returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
"A return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, or even if it is a similar accord with several improvements, is bad and wrong from an operational and strategic point of view", he said during an address to Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) on Tuesday, as cited by Reuters.
The general referred to Iran's increasing efforts to enrich uranium after the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, claiming that such activity may help the Islamic Republic finally obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly underscored that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.
"In light of this fundamental analysis, I have instructed the Israel Defence Forces to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to those already in place. It will be up to the political leadership, of course, to decide on implementation, but these plans need to be on the table", Kohavi pointed out, in apparent reference to Iran.
Last year, the IDF chief of staff described Iran as "the most dangerous country in the Middle East", and pointed to the "significant progress" in Tehran's nuclear programme. Iran and Israel, who currently have no diplomatic ties, have repeatedly traded claims that the other side is the region's "biggest threat to peace".
Kohavi's INSS speech came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday pointed the finger at the US for breaking the nuclear deal "for no reason", adding that Tehran will not be the first to show a "goodwill gesture" regarding the JCPOA.
This was preceded by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calling on US President Joe Biden to go back to the JCPOA and stressing that "the ball is in the US court now".
The remarks came amid reports that the Biden team and Iran have been in talks for several weeks to discuss Washington's possible return to the nuclear deal.
Iran Nuclear Deal
The JCPOA has been in jeopardy since May 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the accord, saying it was flawed from the start and accusing Iran of trying to create nuclear weapons.
Newly sworn-in US President Joe Biden, however, made it plain that he is interested in talks with Iran, suggesting that a return to the JCPOA may be possible, although no official terms have been mentioned so far.