In the video: Netanyahu: "My most important task is to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons" (Photo: Roni Kanfo)
Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi left early next week for Washington to hold meetings with senior White House officials regarding progress in Iran's nuclear program and other security issues, two senior Israeli and American officials said.
Towards the end of next week, American Defense Minister Lloyd Austin will arrive in Israel to continue the talks.
why is it important
The US and Israel are very concerned about the unprecedented progress of the Iranian nuclear program.
Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have emphasized in recent weeks that it is necessary to present a credible military threat to stop Iran.
Dermer and Negabi are hawks on the Iranian issue and lead for Netanyahu the formulation of Israeli policy on the issue.
He will go with Hangabi to the White House to discuss the Iranian nuclear program.
Dermer (photo: official website, Sharia Diamant, first source)
In the news center
US Undersecretary of Defense Colin Call said in a hearing in the US House of Representatives yesterday (Tuesday) that within 12 days Iran can enrich a sufficient amount of uranium to a level of 90% for one atomic bomb.
Cal said that before the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran needed a year to break through and achieve the 90% level of enriched uranium needed for one bomb.
The American official said these things against the background of the investigation conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding the nuclear activities carried out by Iran at the underground enrichment facility in Purdue where particles of uranium enriched to the level of 84% were found.
This is the highest level of enrichment Iran has reached and is very close to the 90% level needed to produce nuclear weapons.
American and Israeli intelligence estimates that despite progress in Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities, it still needs a period of one to two years to produce a nuclear warhead for a ballistic missile.
The head of the CIA, Bill Burns, said in an interview with the CBS network earlier this week that despite the Iranian progress, US intelligence does not believe that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made a decision to renew Iran's nuclear weapons program, which was frozen in 2003.
Behind the Scenes
Dermer and Hangabi are expected to meet with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, with Secretary of State Tony Blinken and other senior American officials.
Dermer and Hangabi's visit will take place against the backdrop of growing concern in the White House about the government's plan to weaken the justice system and the growing tensions in the West Bank ahead of the month of Ramadan.
Several senior officials in the US administration said that the administration is interested in working with Netanyahu on containing Iran, but it will be difficult to do so "if Netanyahu's backyard catches fire."
Hanegbi and Dermer will arrive in Washington when Netanyahu has not yet received an invitation to a meeting with President Biden at the White House.
Three senior American officials said that Netanyahu would receive an invitation "at the appropriate time."
They emphasized that beyond President Biden's busy schedule, the White House is interested in seeing where the issue of the plan to weaken the judicial system is progressing and making sure that Ramadan ends without a significant escalation.
He has not yet received an invitation to a meeting with Biden.
Netanyahu (Photo: screenshot, Knesset Channel)
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Next Wednesday, after Negbi and Dermer finish their visit to Washington, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will arrive in Israel, senior Israeli and American officials said.
He is expected to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Galant and President Herzog.
Austin will come to Israel as part of the American effort to curb the escalation in the West Bank.
During the visit, Austin is also expected to discuss the preparations of the US and Israel against Iran in the region.
Austin will be the fourth senior member of the Biden administration to come to Israel since the formation of the new government.
He is preceded by his visit to Jerusalem by national security adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA chief Bill Burns and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Last Friday, Austin spoke on the phone with Defense Minister Gallant and discussed with him the situation in the West Bank and dealing with Iranian aggression.
what are they saying
The White House, the Pentagon and the Prime Minister's Office refused to comment.
The Iranian nuclear program