Skip to main content

Gantz informs Biden administration of updated Israeli plans to strike Iran

Israel's defense minster joins other officials in subtle warning to Washington over Iran nuclear talks.
Israeli Defence Minister and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz arrives at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem on December 2, 2020. - Gantz said his party will vote for an opposition bill to dissolve parliament, a move that could force a fourth election in under two years. (Photo by Alex KOLOMIENSKY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALEX KOLOMIENSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday said that Israel’s military is updating its operational plans for a potential future strike on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites.

Gantz’s comments come as the Biden administration considers its options for resuming negotiations on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Israeli officials, chief among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have opposed the deal, calling it insufficient for preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long term.

“If the world stops them before, it’s very much good. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves,” Gantz told Fox News in an interview Thursday.

It is not the first time a member of Netanyahu’s government has signaled Israel’s preparedness to strike Iran unilaterally. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi revealed in January that he had instructed the military to come up with new operational plans to knock out Iran's nuclear sites.

Israeli officials previously floated the idea during the Obama administration as the United States pursued talks with the Islamic Republic. US officials reportedly interpreted the warning as a scare tactic, as the limitations of Israel’s air force would make such a move extremely risky, given the significant distance to the targets and Iran’s array of air defenses.

“It would be a massive preparatory effort to ensure they can even get to the target. It would be casualty-producing,” a former senior US official directly familiar with the matter told Al-Monitor late last year.

“You would require so many American military assets that you might as well just call it our operation. And there would be no guarantee of success,” the former official said.

The Donald Trump administration unilaterally abandoned the JCPOA in 2018. Iran eventually responded by publicly violating the agreement, increasing its uranium enrichment beyond limits allowed by the deal.

During his final days in office, Trump asked his top advisers about options for a US attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were reportedly among the officials who opposed the option of striking Iran.

The Islamic Republic has expanded its drone, cruise and ballistic missile capabilities in recent years. US and Israeli officials grew increasingly concerned during the Trump administration that Tehran was passing the technology to proxy militias in Iraq, Syria and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, putting the weapons within striking range of Saudi Arabia, Israel and other US partners in the region.

The United States has provided support for Israel’s air campaign against suspected Iran-linked targets in Syria since 2018. Meanwhile, Israel is seeking to extend the range of its air force with new refueling tankers from the United States.

Iranian leaders have publicly refused to discuss the country’s ballistic missile program and regional influence campaign as part of proposed talks over a return to the JCPOA.

The Biden administration has said Iran’s conventional strike capabilities should be included in follow-on talks once the nuclear issue is tackled.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday said he will convey to Western officials his government's "plan of action" for potential next steps in establishing negotiations.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

Text Alerts - Be the first to get breaking news, exclusives, and PRO content.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial