Middle East/North Africa

Israel preparing for possible ‘military conflagration’ with Iran, official says

Israel is preparing to potentially intervene in any possible military clash in the Gulf region as tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to escalate, a top Israeli official said Tuesday.

“It should be taken into account that mistaken calculations by the (Iranian) regime … are liable to bring about a shift from the ‘gray zone’ to the ‘red zone’ – that is, a military conflagration,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said during a speech at a conference, according to Reuters.

{mosads}“We must be prepared for this, and thus the State of Israel continues to devote itself to building up its military might for the event that it will have to respond to escalation scenarios,” he added.

However, Katz noted in a separate interview with Israel’s Army Radio earlier Tuesday that he thought Washington’s economic pressure on Tehran could prevent a physical clash.

“Iran has no chance in this war,” he said. “Therefore there is an opportunity there, through the tough economic pressure and the comprehensive sanctions, to prevent war, to achieve the objectives without war.”

The international organization that monitors Tehran’s compliance with the 2015 multinational nuclear deal confirmed this week that Iran exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile under the Obama-era pact in what is believed to be Tehran’s first breach.

“They know what they’re doing,” President Trump, who withdrew from the nuclear agreement in 2018, said during a bill signing in the Oval Office on Monday. “They know what they’re playing with, and they’re playing with fire.” 

The administration has imposed numerous sanctions against Iran since pulling out of the nuclear deal, including on Tehran’s oil sector, precious metals sector, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other high-ranking officials.

However, the chances for a military conflict appear to have heightened in recent weeks after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone and was accused of bombing oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. 

Trump said he called off a retaliatory strike over the drone shootdown after learning as many as 150 Iranians could be killed, saying the response was not proportional.

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