Israel Badly Requires US Refueling Tankers to Strike Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Israel to Import US Tankers to Strike Iranian Nuclear Facilities

With the geopolitical landscape changing fast in the Middle East, Israel has started making preparations to counter security threat from Iran. During his recent visit to Washington DC, Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz urged US defense secretary Lloyd Austin to deliver refueling tankers to Jerusalem as soon as possible, so that his country could strike Iran's nuclear facilities.

In March 2021, Israel ordered new KC-46 tankers, which could easily refuel its bombers in the air, thus allowing Israeli fighter jets to reach their targets in Iran and return, safely. Boeing said that it could send eight such aircraft, worth $2.4 billion, to Jerusalem in late 2024, as the company is also manufacturing such bombers for the US Air Force that requires bombers to ensure peace in the Indo-Pacific, and to counter China in the region. The visiting Israeli minister made it clear that it would not be possible for the government to wait that long, as the situation was constantly deteriorating.

Israeli daily 'Yedioth Ahronoth' has reported that the timing of the delivery is a crucial issue for the Jewish nation, stating that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is planning to revive the threat of a military strike against Iran, as diplomacy has failed to resolve bilateral issues. Furthermore, Iran is reportedly building a nuclear weapon, which could pose a serious security threat to 'regional arch-rival' Israel.

KC-46 tankers (image courtesy: Twitter

In 2017, the Israeli Air Force decided to replace its existing refueling planes, asking the Benjamin Netanyahu administration to immediately place an order for new ones. At that time, the Iranian nuclear program seemed under control, as Tehran was shipping 97% of its nuclear fuel out of the country as per the 2015 agreement. Former Prime Minister Netanyahu had opposed the agreement, as he used to believe that the world powers were undermining the Israeli interests while finalizing the deal with Iran.

Meanwhile, Gantz made the request to the top US officials after Washington DC and Jerusalem failed to reach an agreement on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program. Prime Minister Bennett is of the opinion that Tehran has successfully increased its nuclear fuel production since mid-2018, when former US President Donald Trump pulled out of a deal aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear activities. During this period of time, the Israeli intelligence services repeatedly tried to sabotage the Iranian uranium-enrichment sites and a nuclear centrifuges-manufacturing factory, but failed.

Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White
Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White Wikimedia Commons

After considering the situation, the Israeli prime minister has created a substantial budget for the defense sector mainly to rehearse an aerial attack. Israel is also against the revival of talks regarding Iranian Nuclear Deal, as Jerusalem believes that any such effort would lead to a flawed deal, allowing Tehran to making a bomb.