Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has announced that the Jewish state is bracing itself for its possible military involvement in the escalation of relations between Iran and the US.
Addressing the Herzliya Conference on Tuesday, he claimed that “mistaken calculations by the [Iranian] regime” may bring about a “military conflagration” in the Middle East region.
“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,” Katz pointed out.
The remarks come after he told the Israel Army Radio that after its current uranium enrichment ramp-up, Iran is sliding toward a war in which it may suffer heavy losses.
The top Israeli diplomat pledged that the Jewish state would not “allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, even if it has to act alone on that”.
Katz also predicted a possible US-led “economic war” on Iran, which he argued would be successful for Washington despite the other world powers’ concerns.
“Iran has no chance in this war. Therefore there is an opportunity there, through the tough economic pressure and the comprehensive sanctions, to prevent war, to achieve the objectives without war,” he noted.
This followed Mojtaba Zolnour, the chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy commission, warning in an interview with the Tehran-based Arabic language news TV network al-Alam that if the US attacks Iran, “only half an hour will remain of Israel's lifespan”.
He was echoed by Major General Gholam Ali Rashid, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who pledged that Iran would do its best to avoid a military conflict but that it will not think twice before retaliating in response to foreign aggression.
“Just as we will watch for the breakout of a war with intelligence command, prudence and power, we are much more ready and agile than the past to inflict heavy costs on the aggressor and will make a quick decision [in this vein]”, Ali Rashid said during a visit to Iranian naval units near the Strait of Hormuz on Monday.
He reiterated that Iran’s response to any possible intrusion on its Persian Gulf islands as well as its maritime and aerial borders would be “powerful”, forcing the potential aggressors to regret their actions.
All this comes against the backdrop of increasing tensions between the US and Iran, which escalated last month following an apparent sabotage attack against two oil tankers off Iran's coast in the Gulf of Oman.
Washington immediately blamed Tehran for the attacks, while the Iranian Foreign Ministry accused the Trump administration and its Israeli and Gulf State allies of deliberately escalating the situation to “cover up” the US’ “economic terrorism against Iran”.
In a separate development in June, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said that they had brought down a US Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone flying over Hormozgan Province on the nation's southern coast because it violated the country's airspace.
The US Central Command, for its part, said that the unmanned aerial vehicle was hit while operating over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
The developments worsened the already tense ties between Tehran and Washington, which have been deteriorating since Trump announced the US’ withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 8 May 2018. Tehran responded in kind exactly a year later, suspending its participation in the deal, but confirming readiness to continue adhering to its implementation.