Israel Will Stop Iran Nuclear Program 'With or Without' Joe Biden Deal, Benjamin Netanyahu Warns

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, whether or not Tehran reaches a deal with President Joe Biden to revive the stalled Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement.

Speaking at a memorial service on Tuesday, Netanyahu—who is currently facing corruption charges and preparing for Israel's fourth general election in two years—said Israel was uninterested in Biden's proposed revival of the JCPOA, dismissing the government in Tehran as an "extremist regime," The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel has always been staunchly opposed to the deal, and Netanyahu was a major influence on former President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the accord in 2018.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders believe that Tehran cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement, and consider an American détente with Iran a threat to Israel's strategic position.

Israeli officials have been pressuring Biden not to return to the deal but the new administration has pressed ahead regardless. The Biden administration has said it will consult with allies including Israel on its Iran strategy, though it remains committed to the JCPOA.

Observers have speculated that Israel may take unilateral action to undermine the deal, for example, military strikes or cyber attacks against Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel's major political parties are largely united in opposition to the JCPOA, despite the chaotic domestic political environment.

Israel has, in the past, attacked nuclear sites in Syria, Iraq and Iran. Israeli operatives are also suspected of having assassinated multiple Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, including top researcher Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November.

"Israel isn't pinning its hopes on an agreement with an extremist regime," Netanyahu said of Iran. "We already saw what these agreements are worth... with North Korea," he added, referring to failed American efforts to prevent Pyongyang from establishing a nuclear arsenal.

"With or without an agreement," Netanyahu said, "we will do everything so [Iran is not] armed with nuclear weapons."

On Thursday, Jews will celebrate the Purim holiday, which marks the saving of Jewish people from Haman, an Achaemenid Persian Empire official who had planned to kill all Jews in the empire some 2,500 years ago.

"2,500 years ago, a Persian oppressor tried to destroy the Jewish people, and just as he failed then, you will fail today," Netanyahu said, addressing his remarks to Iran's leaders.

"We didn't make a journey of thousands of years to return to the land of Israel in order to allow the delusional Ayatollah's regime to finish the story of the rebirth of the Jewish people."

For all Netanyahu's tough words, he is in a weakened position with the new president. For four years under Trump, Netanyahu enjoyed unquestioning support from the White House.

But now, Biden is expected to press the prime minister on human rights abuses of Palestinians in Israel and continued expansion of settlements on Palestinian land considered illegal under international law.

The corruption allegations swirling around Netanyahu will also concern Washington, D.C., and it was notable that Biden waited four weeks to call the Israeli leader after his election.

Israel's Army Radio reported Tuesday that Netanyahu will keep disputes with the U.S. "below the radar" in the early stages of the Biden administration, focusing instead on winning the March election.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a gym Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he visits a gym in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva on February 20, 2021. -/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Getty