Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed concern in an interview published Thursday that Israeli-made defense systems, including the US-funded Iron Dome, could find their way to Iran if they were transferred to Ukraine.
in a video interview with the Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu hinted that if systems used by Ukrainian forces fall into Russian hands, the country’s close relationship with US-sanctioned nation Iran could see them end up under Tehran’s control. He did not specify exactly how Iran would obtain this equipment.
Moscow has used Iranian-made Shahed drones in the war in Ukraine, renamed Geran. Tehran has said in the past that it did not supply these weapons to Russia for use against kyiv.
“We are also concerned that the systems we would give to Ukraine fall into Iranian hands and could be reverse-engineered, and we find ourselves facing Israeli systems being used against Israel,” Netanyahu told the newspaper.
“That is not a theoretical threat, because the western systems, the anti-tank systems, for example, made exactly that trip, that we now find them on our borders with [Iran-backed group] Hezbollah”.
Ukraine has repeatedly stressed its urgent need for air defense systems and munitions to weather the air attack of the ongoing Russian offensive. US Senators Chris Van Hollen and Lindsey Graham have in recent days urged Israel to lift its alleged veto on the transfer of the Iron Dome air defense and missile interception system to kyiv.
“To be clear, we are not asking Israel to transfer its own Iron Dome systems, which are critical to its own security, but simply to allow the United States to transfer our own batteries to help the people of Ukraine,” the officials said. senators. in a joint statement dated June 23.
In a scathing statement from FacebookThe Ukrainian embassy in Israel said on June 25 that “the current Israeli government has opted for a path of close cooperation with the Russian Federation,” citing Israel’s diplomatic engagement with Moscow and its perception of “near absence of Israeli humanitarian assistance.” to Ukraine”.
In a new statement on June 28The Ukrainian embassy appealed to Israel, citing the recent Russian bombing of a restaurant in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, which left 12 dead.
“The Russians are murdering our citizens, and Israel still refuses to sell defense equipment to Ukraine!” he said. “If Israel is known for its defensive capabilities, it will provide Ukraine with essential protective equipment, lives will be saved.”
When asked about these comments, Netanyahu said that Israel is not neutral in the conflict and has emphasized its sympathy and stance with Ukraine, but that it is subject to “constraints” and national security concerns.
“My first interest, regardless of sympathy and whatever steps we take, is to ensure the security of the only Jewish state,” he said.
Israel’s stance could also be related to an unwillingness to jeopardize its progress in countering Tehran in neighboring Syria.
“Israel’s reluctance to condemn Russia’s actions is first and foremost a strategic decision to avoid jeopardizing an unofficial agreement with Moscow that allows Israel to combat Iranian influence in Syria.” the Atlantic Council pointed out in late April.
“Since its military intervention began in 2015, Russia has been among the dominant forces in Syria. Russia controls the Syrian skies and generally does not restrict Israeli warplanes from carrying out strikes against Iranian proxies. With this in mind, Israel does not want to take any chances. alienating the Kremlin”.
In fact, in the Wall Street Journal interview, Netanyahu acknowledged that “our pilots are flying alongside Russian pilots over the skies over Syria to block Iran’s attempts to establish a second Hezbollah front in Syria.”
Israel has found itself increasingly isolated in its opposition to Iran, after Saudi Arabia and Tehran ended a seven-year rift through a China-brokered reestablishment of ties in March. The United States and Iran resumed negotiations on a possible prisoner exchange earlier this month. multiple sources told NBC Newsamid questions about whether the two administrations would explore a possible informal agreement to prevent the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear program.
Official negotiations to return Washington to a variant of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran, mediated by the European Union and other signatories, have not led to a breakthrough.
Addressing the possibility of a new deal with the United States, Netanyahu said that “any deal with Iran that doesn’t slow down its nuclear infrastructure, basically doesn’t dismantle it, is not very helpful.”
The US State Department and the Iranian and Russian foreign ministries did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment about the possibility that systems deployed in support of Ukraine would eventually come under Iranian control.