'Israel will never allow Iran to obtain n-weapons'

Jerusalem, Apr 13 (IANS): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

He made the remarks while addressing a joint press conference here on Monday with visiting US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.

Addressing Austin, Netanyahu said: "We both know the horrors of war. We both understand the importance of preventing war and we both agree that Iran must never possess nuclear weapons.

"My policy as Prime Minister of Israel is clear: I will never allow Iran to obtain the nuclear capability to carry out its genocidal goal of eliminating Israel.

"Israel will continue to defend itself against Iran's aggression and terrorism."

Iran has repeatedly denied its attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and says its nuclear facilities are meant for civil purposes only.

Netanyahu then went on to say that "Israel has no greater ally and certainly no greater 'mishpucha' (family in Hebrew) than the US".

"And I can say equally that the US has no greater ally and no greater 'mishpucha' than Israel."

Thanking the Prime Minister for the "discussion on a range of regional security challenges, including Iran's destabilising activities", Austin said that Washington's "commitment to the US-Israel strategic partnership is ironclad".

"The US supports normalization between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world," he added.

Austin's two-day visit marks the first by a US official since President Joe Biden's inauguration in January.

On Sunday, Austin met Defence Minister Benny Gantz during he said that he was committed to boosting the Jewish state's security and "continuing our close consultations on threats posed by Iran".

This meeting came on the same day after Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz was attacked.

Iran has blamed Israel for the accident took place in a part of the electricity distribution network of the facility.

Austin's visit also comes as the White House has been holding indirect talks over possible renewing of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, the Defence Secretary is not expected to visit the Palestinian Territories, although US President Joe Biden has signalled that he wants to rebuild ties with the Palestinians.

The previous administration of Donald Trump made several major diplomatic moves which were welcomed by Israel but denigrated by the Palestinians, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and weakening support for a two-state solution.

Austin is expected in Germany on Tuesday, and in Brussels after that.



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