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US reportedly to offer Israel ‘unprecedented’ arms deal

israel-us-arms-dealU.S. President Barack Obama hugs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion International Airport Airport in Tel Aviv March 20, 2013.Reuters/Jason Reed

The US is planning to offer Israel a wide-ranging arms deal to ease anger in Jerusalem over the Iranian nuclear agreement, according to Israeli media reports.

The landmark nuclear deal, signed last week in Vienna after painstaking negotiations between six world powers, will see Tehran’s nuclear capabilities restricted in return for the lifting of crippling international sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s economy.

The accord raised the ire of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has opposed Iran’s nuclear programme for almost three decades, calling the latest agreement a “historic mistake” which allows Iran a “sure path to nuclear weapons”.

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In order to ease Israeli concerns over the deal, Washington is now considering signing off on one of the biggest deals in the two nations’ history, an arms deal which Israel’s Channel 2 called “unprecedented” if it comes to fruition.

The Israeli television channel reported that the Obama administration has already briefed top Israeli officials on the potential deal, which would include advanced weaponry and technology that the Israeli military does not already own.

Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice reportedly called former Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday to inform him that Washington was prepared to offer the major arms package. The pair exchanged differing views on the Iran deal, with Peres unhappy that Iran would receive 24-days notice before inspections of their programme.

Reuven Ben Shalom, a retired IDF Lieutenant-Colonel and former head of the North American department at the IDF’s planning branch, where he managed the US-Israel military relations at the strategic level, says that military cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem is stronger than ever and that such a deal is likely being touted to appease the Israeli public.

“I think sometimes there are things that are done for the public eye or worded in a specific way for the public,” he says. “I say this because, throughout the years, there has always been strong military support from the US, keeping Israel as the strongest military in the Middle East.”


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