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March 30, 2021 3:45 pm

IDF’s Point Man on Iran Says Israel ‘Definitely’ Has Capacity to Destroy Nuclear Program, Biden Administration ‘Keeping Its Promises’ So Far

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A view of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility 250 km (155 miles) south of the Iranian capital Tehran, March 30, 2005. Photo: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

The head of the IDF directorate tasked with dealing with the Iran nuclear issue said that the Biden administration largely sees the situation as Israel does, and is so far “keeping its promises.”

Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, who heads the Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate and has participated in discussions with the Biden White House at the highest levels, told Israel Hayom that “the first stage is to be aligned with [the US] on the intelligence picture.”

“I think that in very high percentages they see the situation as we do,” he said.

Asked about Israel’s concern that many officials who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vehemently opposed, have returned to office, Kalman said, “It’s true that in some of the cases these are the same people, but it’s not the same administration.”

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“So far, this administration is keeping its promises,” he asserted. “It has come to listen, not rush to a new deal.”

“So, I think there’s a space of a few months to try and influence the administration’s policy,” Kalman said. “Even the Americans are clearly saying they will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear capability. Now, the question is how to act in this situation.”

Israel’s position, he added, is “we’re saying ‘yes’ to a deal that will be longer and stronger” than the 2015 agreement.

Asked whether Israel has the military capability to completely destroy Iran’s nuclear program if necessary, Kalman said, “The answer is yes. When we build these capabilities, we build them to be operational.”

“It’s not that there aren’t many strategic dilemmas, since the day after Iran can go back to the plan, but the ability exists,” he said. “Definitely.”

Regarding a possible strategy of turning the tables on Iran — which has sought to entrench itself on Israel’s borders — by positioning Israeli assets on Iran’s borders, Kalman said, “We need to strengthen that component in the set of actions we’re doing.”

One aspect of this is the Abraham Accords, which have made Gulf states bordering Iran strategic partners of Israel, he added.

“I think the Iranian leader, whose strategy is to base Iran on Israel’s borders, wakes up these days and is very concerned, because he sees potential for Israel to be based around his own borders. It’s a major change,” said Kalman.

The former fighter pilot became a major general in 2020, and took charge over the new, Iran-focused position on the IDF’s General Staff.

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