Washington’s most senior military officer this week sought Israeli assurances that the Middle Eastern nation is not planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities that the United States and its allies fear could be stepping stones to atomic arms, according to a public radio report cited by Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on Wednesday with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Israeli General Staff head Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz sat in on the latter discussion.
Dempsey was visiting Israel to ensure Yaalon “is not flip-flopping on the Americans and changing his mind about an independent Israeli strike on Iran,” a senior Israeli defense insider told al-Monitor last week.
After meeting with Dempsey, Netanyahu said the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran eclipses all other dangers from Israel’s neighbors, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Tuesday.
“We will work together so that doesn’t happen,” Netanyahu said.
President Obama has sought to curb Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear-weapon capability through economic pressure and diplomatic engagement, but also has refused to rule out employing direct force against Tehran’s activities. Netanyahu has more heavily emphasized the possibility of an armed offensive against Tehran, which insists its atomic ambitions are purely peaceful.
In a news report published last week, Israel’s finance minister said Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities could potentially be leveled with “a few hours of airstrikes.”
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"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."
President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.