Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has described Tehran as the “most dangerous and pressing threat” in the Middle East.
His comments come as Iran promised to exact revenge for a cyber attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday, that it blames on Israel.
Israel has not, so far, denied it carried out the strike which damaged centrifuges at the plant. Netanyahu claims the government in Tehran is still developing nuclear weapons.
At first, the explosion was called an ‘accident’. But suspicion soon fell on Israel.
“Of course the Zionist regime, with this action, tried to take revenge on the people of Iran for their patience and wise attitude regarding the lifting of (US) sanctions,” said Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman. “Iran’s response will be revenge on the Zionist regime at the right time and place.”
The attack has put further pressure on relations between the US and Israel.
President Joe Biden is now negotiating in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to stop the deal at all costs.
Cornelius Adebahr is a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Berlin.
He says the two sides are struggling to find common ground over the Iran issue.
“They have held bilateral talks, especially on Iran and they’ve set up a working group, a task force, so to say, on Iran, to come closer to one another,” he says.
“But it seems that with the promise from President Biden on the campaign trail to get back into the deal, this is ringing alarm bells in Israel.”
The attack on the nuclear facility came just one day after the new advanced uranium centrifuges were unveiled. These are key to the country’s uranium enrichment programme.
Natanz has been targeted by sabotage in the past. The Stuxnet computer virus, discovered in 2010 and widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation, once disrupted and destroyed Iranian centrifuges there during an earlier period of Western fears about Tehran’s program.
In July, Natanz suffered a mysterious explosion at its advanced centrifuge assembly plant that authorities later described as sabotage.