TEL AVIV – Israeli personnel in recent days were in Saudi Arabia to inspect bases that could be used as a staging ground to launch attacks against Iran, according to informed Egyptian intelligence officials.
The officials said Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and other Arab and Persian Gulf countries have been discussing the next steps toward possible strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites.
The officials said the U.S. passed strong messages to Israel and the Saudis that the Americans maintain and control radar capabilities around the skies of Iran and that no strike should be launched without the permission of the Obama administration.
It was unclear whether the visit to Saudi Arabia by Israeli military and intelligence officials signals any real preparation for a strike or if the trip was meant to signal to the West that Israel retains the right to defend itself.
The trip came prior to the announcement of a deal Sunday that purports to halt key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
At a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed what he called a “bad” and “dangerous” deal, while affirming that Israel will not allow Iran to go nuclear.
“Israel is not obligated by this agreement,” Netanyahu said. “I want to make clear we will not allow Iran to obtain military nuclear capability.”
“Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world,” he said.
The deal reportedly halts the installation of new centrifuges, but allows Iran to keep current centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
The agreement caps the amount and type of enriched uranium Iran can produce and opens many nuclear sites up to daily inspections. However, Israel is warning that even the low-grade uranium permitted in the agreement can be used to eventually assemble a nuclear weapons capability.
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to halt work on key components of its Arak heavy-water reactor that could be used to produce plutonium, but the country doesn’t have to dismantle the reactor.
In response, Iran gets sanctions relief, including the freeing of $7 billion or more in frozen assets.
Hours after deal was signed, President Hassan Rouhani said the agreement recognizes Tehran’s “rights” to maintain an atomic program.