Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, days after President Donald Trump refused to recertify Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, and a day after Israeli fighter jets hit a surface-to-air missile battery in Syria, a client state of the Kremlin.
According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office, the meeting focused primarily on Iran’s military buildup in Syria.
Netanyahu reportedly told Shoygu that an Iranian presence near Israel’s northern border would not be tolerated.
“Iran must understand that Israel will not permit this,” the Prime Minister said.
The leaders also discussed Iran’s nuclear program, and the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The future of the JCPOA was thrown into doubt last Friday when President Trump announced he would not recertify Iranian compliance with the deal. Under US law, the president must certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days. Failure to do so forces Congress to either reimpose sanctions lifted under the JCPOA, or vote to alter the sanctions regime.
The deadline for recertification passed on Sunday, with the President declining to certify Iranian compliance.
While congressional Democrats have backed the JCPOA and earlier called on Trump to recertify, many Republicans in both the House and Senate have argued the agreement must be radically altered – or scrapped. The president echoed this sentiment, calling to “fix it – or nix it”.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu warned the Russian Defense Minister that without serious alterations to the deal, Iran will be able to manufacture its own nuclear arsenal within 8 to 10 years.
A day earlier, Israeli security officials contacted their Russian counterparts to notify them of an impending Israeli airstrike on a surface-to-air missile battery in Syria. Syria, a client state of Russia, had opened fire on the Israeli aircraft as they conducted routine reconnaissance operations over southern Lebanon, forcing the planes to return fire.