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Israel military revising operational plans against Iran: General | Conflict News



Israel’s military is refreshing its operational plans against Iran and any US return to the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran would be “wrong”, a top general warned.

Israeli Lieutenant-General Amir Kohavi made the remarks on Tuesday in an address to Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“A return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, or even if it is a similar accord with several improvements, is bad and wrong from an operational and strategic point of view,” Kohavi said.

The comments were an apparent signal to US President Joe Biden to tread cautiously in any diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Such remarks by Israel’s military chief of staff on American policy-making are rare and likely would have been pre-approved by the Israeli government.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, abandoned the nuclear agreement in 2018 – a move welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who criticised the sanctions relief it offered and warned of the likelihood of Iranian nuclear arms development after its expiration.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week the United States was “a long way” from deciding whether to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran and it would need to see what Tehran actually did to resume complying with the historic pact.

An Israeli pilot climbs into an Israeli F-15 fighter jet during a training exercise [File: Amir Cohen/Reuters]

‘On the table’

Since Washington pulled out of the deal, Iran has gradually breached its key limits, building up its stockpile of low enriched uranium, enriching uranium to higher levels of purity, and installing centrifuges in ways barred by the accord.

Kohavi said those actions by Iran, which denies it is seeking atomic arms, showed it could ultimately decide to push forward rapidly towards building a nuclear weapon.

“In light of this fundamental analysis, I have instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to those already in place,” Kohavi said.

“It will be up to the political leadership, of course, to decide on implementation, but these plans need to be on the table.”

Trita Parsi, an analyst from the Quincy Institute, said Kohavi’s remarks were a clear message to Biden after Trump – a staunch ally of Netanyahu – left office last week.

“Even before Biden took the oath of office, the Netanyahu government went after him extremely aggressively – took off the gloves right away – to try to pressure Biden not to go back to the nuclear deal,” Parsi told Al Jazeera.

“One of Netanyahu’s ministers said publicly that if the United States rejoins the nuclear deal – which is something Biden believes lies in the US’ national interest – Israel would go to war. This is very serious at a very early stage.”

He noted in the past there had been tension between Israel and the US over its Iran policy, but it took time to come to a head.

“This time, uniquely, it’s starting right away. Netanyahu has thrown the first punch,” said Parsi.

In December, Biden said in an interview that returning to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was the best way to avoid a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Iran has expressed a willingness to revive the agreement, saying the country would return to full commitments if Biden lifts sanctions.

Targeting Iran

After Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, tensions in the Middle East quickly escalated after a series of attacks and military incidents. The US launched a “maximum pressure” campaign and reimposed a series of punishing sanctions that crippled Iran’s economy.

Last January Qassem Soleimani – head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force, and architect of its regional security apparatus – was assassinated in a US air strike near Baghdad’s international airport. The killing brought the two countries to the brink of war.

In November, Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in a brazen attack outside of Tehran as he drove in his car. Tehran blamed Israel for that killing.

Netanyahu had threatened possible Israeli strikes against Iran in the run-up to the landmark nuclear accord with world powers. But a senior Israeli officer, who spoke to reporters in 2015 on condition of anonymity, underscored differences in Israel over the issue by saying a deal had potential security benefits.

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US debt projected to balloon to more than double GDP by 2051 | Debt News



The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that by 2051, the United States’ debt will skyrocket to 202 percent of its gross domestic product, up from 102 percent this year.

The U.S. federal debt will grow to more than double the size of the economy in three decades, increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis even though dangers appear low in the near term, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Debt will be equivalent to 202% of gross domestic product by 2051 from 102% this year, the nonpartisan arm of the legislature said Thursday in its long-term budget outlook. Its projection for 195% in 2050 was unchanged from the prior report, whose forecasts ran through that year.

Net interest payments on the debt are expected to remain relatively low for the next decade, then rise rapidly over the following 20 years, the CBO said. The agency projects 10-year Treasury yield, after inflation, at 2.6% in 2050. The nominal yield was at 1.54%, near the highest in more than a year, on Thursday.

The CBO also said that the two Social Security trust funds, for seniors and people with disabilities, will be exhausted later than the agency projected last year.

The report — which doesn’t reflect the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan currently working its way through Congress — follows the selloff in Treasuries over the past week that sent yields spiking. Investors are gaining more confidence that rates will move up, with U.S. growth and the labor market set for a stronger-than-expected uptick as vaccines roll out and states lift restrictions.

The CBO outlook’s debt projections will likely underpin already-firm opposition by Republicans to the relief plan, and could also concern some Democratic lawmakers as President Joe Biden prepares a followup multitrillion-dollar plan to build infrastructure and boost the economy in other ways.

“The risk of a fiscal crisis appears to be low in the short run despite the higher deficits and debt stemming from the pandemic,” the CBO said in the report. “Nonetheless, the much higher debt over time would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis in the years ahead.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the U.S. economy still has a long way to go before the central bank considers tightening, and underscored that the low-inflation world of the past several decades is unlikely to change.

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