Israel on Thursday released footage of warplanes testing their ability to fly long distances -- just days before Iran plans to hold talks with other nations over its contested nuclear activities, which have prompted Israeli threats of attack.
The Israeli air force "plays a central role in carrying out Israel’s military option if necessary," the Israeli Defense Forces said in released comments, which contain no specific reference to Iran. Tehran is scheduled next Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with counterparts from six major governments over concerns that its civilian atomic efforts in reality are directed toward developing a nuclear-weapon capability.
"No deal is better than a bad deal," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Financial Times on Thursday, referring to the Iranian negotiations that his nation will be monitoring closely. "A bad deal would be a partial agreement which lifts sanctions off Iran and leaves them with the ability to enrich uranium or to continue work on their heavy-water plutonium, which is what is needed to produce nuclear weapons."
In Washington, meanwhile, 15 House Foreign Affairs Committee members on Thursday sent the Obama administration a letter urging it to reinstate U.S. Treasury Department sanctions personnel furloughed during the federal-government shutdown.
"For maximum U.S. leverage, the sanctions pressure must be kept on Iran especially as [President] Hassan Rouhani attempts to present Iran’s government in a new light," according to comments released by panel chairman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who co-authored the letter with ranking member Ted Poe (R-Texas).
In the international arena, the United States on Thursday protested an Iranian bid for a leadership role on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, Reuters reported.
Iran's appointment several days ago as "rapporteur" of the U.N. First Committee -- another arms-control body -- prompted a critical response from Israel.