‘I prefer ISIS’: Iran’s terror infrastructure is greater threat to Israel – defense minister
Israel continues to express bitter sentiment over the diplomatic victory that secured the nuclear accord with Tehran: The country's defense minister stated that Tehran's nuclear ambitions and “terror infrastructure” are a bigger threat than Islamic State.
Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies' (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stressed that "Iran is our main enemy,” and if he were to choose between Iran and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in an open conflict, he would "prefer ISIS."
The logic seems simple, as IS will be eventually be defeated, while Iran continues to pose a threat with its new rapprochement with the West.
[Tehran] is a rogue regime with designs on a regional hegemony. Hezbollah is Iran's proxy, with the ability to declare war. Iran currently has terror infrastructure in place in five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and both in South and North America," Ya'alon explained, refuting IDF's chief's claims at the conference that new opportunities could arise as a result of the nuclear agreement reached in July 2015 between Iran and a group of world powers, the P5+1.
The historical agreement was hammered out after more than a decade of intense diplomatic bargaining. At the end, the agreement placed strict limits on Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for the lifting of western sanctions.
Iran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. The enrichment would be conducted only at the Natanz facility, while the Fordo facility would not conduct any enrichment activities or store fissile material. Iran also agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium. The Arak reactor would not be used to produce plutonium under the deal. The spent fuel would be handled by international mediators.
Yet despite a clear diplomatic victory, Ya'alon claimed on Tuesday that the nuclear agreement only "pushed back the clock from three months to one year” and that “if Iran feels economically secure, it can breakout and produce a bomb even faster."
Iran, he claimed is becoming a key player in the region as the country supports Damascus against a large insurgency. Ya'alon says that Iran is a key source of instability in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and Gaza.
While acknowledging Russia's role in Syria, the defense minister praised American-led achievements in making ISIS “suffer serious defeats in Iraq and Syria."
“We believe ISIS will be eventually defeated territoriality after the blows it has been suffering, and in light of the attacks on its oil reserves,” Ya'alon said.
But a final victory over IS will only come if world powers support a ground offensive by focusing to “strengthen local forces with ‘boots on the ground,' like the Kurds are doing," he added.
Exclusive U.S. Delegation to Arrive in Israel Next Week to Finalize Details of New Military Aid Package
Israel to start receiving 10-year package in 2018, when the present arrangement runs out.
Gili Cohen Jan 19, 2016 1:46 PM
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, left, with Defense Minister Ya'alon in Washington, in December 2015.Ariel Hermoni / Israel Defense Ministry
Aid is no aid for an Israeli army fighting reform
Hellfire in perspective U.S. military aid to Israel exceeds $100 billion
An unexpected winner in Israel's defense budget: Poorer communities
A delegation from the United States will arrive in Israel next week to finalize the details of the U.S. military aid agreement with Israel for the next 10 years. The payout from the new aid package will start with the 2019 U.S. government fiscal year, beginning in October 2018.
Composed of staff from the U.S. National Security Council, the delegation is scheduled to meet with their Israeli counterparts, headed by Brig. Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagal, acting head of Israel’s National Security Council. Nagal has temporarily replaced Yossi Cohen, who recently was tapped to direct the Mossad espionage agency. Senior officers from the Israel Defense Forces General Staff's Planning Directorate, as well as Defense Ministry officials will participate in the meetings too.
The upcoming round of discussions is expected to focus on technical details, says a source involved in the talks, and to be one of the last before finalization of the new aid agreement.
Within the next month and a half, the two countries hope to draft a memorandum of understanding covering American funding to Israel's military over the next decade, the source added.
During recent visits to Washington, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have discussed with American officials the amount of military aid Israel will receive starting in 2018, when the present aid arrangement runs out.
The Obama administration is expected to raise America's annual military funding to Israel by up to $1 billion for the period covered in the new accord – to about $4.1 billion annually, Haaretz reported three months ago.
Israeli defense officials have said in the past increased U.S. military aid must be concomitant with an increase in Israeli defense spending. As part of the recent negotiations between Israel's finance and defense ministries, a hike in the defense budget was approved, bringing it to a total of more than 60 billion shekels (about $15 billion) per year. In addition, the ministries agreed that from now on, U.S. military aid will be considered to be separate from the regular defense budget, and accounted for separately as well, and to that end, there will be an exemption on levying value added tax on the use of these monies.
After the Iran deal
U.S. military aid to Israel began in 1962; the cumulative sum allocated since then is about $100 billion. The agreement allows Israel to purchase weapons as well as other related equipment and supplies, such as fuel, from the United States. Among the items included are F-35 airplanes. A significant increase in American aid would allow Israel also to purchase Bell Boeing's V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, a deal agreed to last year but postponed due to a shortage of funds. The V-22 deal is estimated at a cost of $1.3 billion.
Up until a few months ago, Israel refused to hold talks on the military aid framework and the “compensation package” it will receive because of the Iranian nuclear agreement, until the latter was formally approved. A senior Israeli defense official said that because the Iranian accord with the world powers will involve the arming of various Arab countries, particularly the Gulf states, “an answer for preserving [Israel’s] qualitative military edge is required — and everyone is aware of this.”
The Israeli decision to wait on the aid talks until approval of the deal with Tehran was not well received in the Obama administration, which saw the postponement as a waste of time.
At this week's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu mentioned the issue of U.S. military aid, after the removal of sanctions against Iran came into effect.
“Following the nuclear agreement with Iran, Israel will continue to monitor all of Iran’s international violations, including those regarding the nuclear agreement, the ballistic missile accord and terrorism,” Netanyahu declared.
“Discussions with the administration are currently being completed," the premier added, "on a document of understanding for the coming decade regarding security assistance to the State of Israel. This is an important part of the permanent policy with respect to us and the United States, our ally, and it is important in order to allow Israel to repel threats in the region – especially the Iranian threat.”
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.698296