WH Reportedly Rejects Israel’s Request to Speed Up US Tanker Aircraft Supplies Amid Mideast Tensions
14:57 GMT 15.12.2021 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Ken Fielding / N461FT 4 Boeing 767-2C(2LK)-KC-46A Boeing Aircraft Co (USAF) PAE 29JUL15N461FT 4 Boeing 767-2C(2LK)-KC-46A Boeing Aircraft Co (USAF) PAE 29JUL15
Last week, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz reportedly said that Tel Aviv is making preparations for a military option to prevent Tehran from obtaining an atomic bomb, amid the ongoing Vienna talks on the Iran nuclear deal.
The US has reportedly refused to speed up the delivery of two tanker aircraft to Israel, in what came amid disagreements between Washington and Tel Aviv over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear programme.
The New York Times cited unnamed sources as saying that Washington told Tel Aviv that US Air Force KC-46 tankers were back-ordered and that the aircraft would unlikely be delivered before late 2024.
The claims came after Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz made a KC-46 tanker-related request during his meeting with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin in Washington last week.
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Last March, the US State Department approved the sale of up to eight KC-46s and relevant equipment to Israel for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion.
The KC-46s are due to replace Israel’s Ram (Boeing 707) tanker aircraft that are required for long-range missions and that are almost 60-year-old. According to The New York Times, the KC-76s “could prove critical to striking Iran’s nuclear facilities” given that the tankers’ characteristics allow three jets to be air-refuelled at once within three to four minutes.
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As for Gantz's visit to Washington, it reportedly saw the Israeli defence minister tell US officials that he wants to set a deadline for when the Israel Defence Forces should complete preparations for an attack against Iran to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
He spoke after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged the international community late last month not to give in to Iran's "nuclear blackmail" and not to agree to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, a topic that is currently under discussion at the Vienna talks.
29 November 2021, 19:25 GMT
Bennett argued that Tehran would be demanding in the new round of the Vienna negotiations the lifting of all sanctions, while allegedly giving nothing in return.
Iran has, meanwhile, underscored, that it does not impose any preconditions or new conditions during the Vienna talks and only wishes to see the restoration of the initial terms of the nuclear accord.
In 2015, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, and Iran concluded the JCPOA, which was designed to lift American sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for limiting Tehran's nuclear programme.
In May 2018, the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal and re-imposed tough sanctions against Tehran. In response, Iran announced a phased reduction in its obligations under the agreement in 2019, abandoning restrictions on nuclear research, centrifuges, and the level of uranium enrichment.