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March 7, 2022 2:44 pm
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Israel Warns Against Iranian Aggression as Nuclear Talks in Final Stretch

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Iranian UAV shrapnel after interception by the IDF on March 15, 2021. Photo: IDF.

Israel’s defense minister warned Monday that Iran remains a “threat to global peace and to regional stability,” shortly after the Israeli military revealed that it downed two Iranian drones launched toward its territory last year.

“It is during this important time, when a nuclear agreement is being negotiated in Vienna, that we must remember: today Iranian aggression is conducted without a ‘nuclear canopy,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz cautioned. “If Iran reaches a nuclear threshold, it will become even more dangerous to world peace.”

“Now is the time for the world to mobilize to stop it. As I have said in the past, the State of Israel will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from becoming an existential threat,” he added.

Negotiators in Vienna are currently in the final stages of negotiations to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Indirect talks between Iran, the United States, and world powers have been ongoing for the past 10 months. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday that a deal can be reached in “the shortest time” if Washington accepts points raised by Tehran.

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“Whether or not an agreement will be signed, it will not be the end of the road for us — nor should it be for the countries of the region and the world, which must continue to act against Iranian aggression,” Gantz said. “[Israel] will take all the measures necessary — political, economic and if needed, also military, in order to defend our sovereignty and ensure the security of the citizens Israel.”

Gantz emphasized that Iranian aggression, whether it originates from Iranian territory or Iranian proxies in the region, threatens more than Israel’s security. The Israeli military said Iran and its proxies have in recent years proliferated the use of UAVs to launch attacks, transfer munitions, and arm operatives.

On Sunday, the IDF disclosed that it intercepted two UAVs launched by Iran toward Israeli territory in March 2021. According to a forensic investigation of the shrapnel, the UAVs were the Iranian “Shahed 197” variety and were transferring munitions destined for Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The incident marked the first operational interception of a UAV by an F-35 aircraft in the world, the IDF said.

A commander belonging to the IDF’s 116th Squadron, which flies F-35s, said they are preparing for a wide array of threats, including long-distance UAVs that transfer munitions and “suicide” UAVs that explode on impact.

The Israeli Air Force is “ready 24/7 to defend Israel’s skies and we will not allow any adversary to infiltrate Israeli airspace and violate Israeli sovereignty,” the commander said.

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