Israel is updating attack plans against Iran's nuclear sites - Gantz

Hezbollah has “hundreds of thousands of missiles” Defense Minister tells Fox News on Thursday. “What is going to happen to Lebanon?”

Benny Gantz in the Defense Ministry (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Benny Gantz in the Defense Ministry
The IDF is updating its attack plans against Iran's nuclear facilities, Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed on Thursday in an interview with Fox News.
"We have them [the attack plans] in our hands, but we will continue [to] constantly improve them," Gantz said.
"The Iranian nuclear aspiration must be stopped. If the world stops them before, it's very much good. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves," Gantz said.
Gantz spoke as US President Joe Biden is working to renew negotiations with the Iranians as part of an effort to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran - known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action [JCPOA]. 
Israel is opposed to a return to the deal and has laid out a series of demands it would like to see addressed in a future deal. 
On Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Vice President Kamala Harris that Israel was totally committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons designed to destroy Israel.
The White House said that the two leaders agreed on the need for close cooperation and partnership on regional security issues, "including Iran’s nuclear program and the regime’s dangerous regional behavior."
On Fox News Gantz warned against a return to the deal, noting that Iran could not be trusted. 
"The Iranians are breaking everything that was agreed with them, they are bluffing," he said as he spoke of Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
He also spoke of the danger of the Iranian back Hezbollah militia group in Lebanon, that has Israel within its weapons scope. 
During the interview, Gantz revealed a classified map to demonstrate how Hezbollah has “hundreds of thousands of missiles” and asked “what is going to happen to Lebanon?” 
“We are ready to fight,” he informed his interviewer, Fox News correspondent Trey Yingst. 

The map was blurred for the audience back home but Yingst seemed very interested in its content. The former IDF chief of staff said that the map contains the locations of Hezbollah ground forces, launching sites and command posts. 

“Everything (they have) is directed at civilian targets and is being conducted from civilian infrastructure,” he said. 

Gantz added that each one of these locations has been examined by Israel from all aspects, including the legality of striking it, and that Jerusalem is willing to do so in the event that a new war erupts with Hezbollah.

"This is a target map. Each one of them has been checked legally, operationally, intelligence-wise and we are ready to fight," Gantz said.

Unlike Gantz, the European Union and the three European signatories to the deal — Germany, France and the United Kingdom were hopeful Thursday that progress could be made to return the US to the deal and ensure Iranian compliance with its dictates.

"Things are moving in the right direction and we have had positive signals this week and especially in last few days," a French diplomatic source said.

The source added the objective was to get everyone around the table before the start of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, on March 20, when Iran slows down administratively.

He added that the window would also narrow from mid-April when Iran's presidential election campaign kicks in.

"We are putting all our efforts so that this (meeting) can take place in the days or coming weeks," the source said.

A second European source also said there had been positive signals from the Iranian side.

Diplomats said the obstacle for talks was that Iran was setting preconditions for attending to ensure that there would be a pathway to sanctions relief after the meeting, something the U.S. could not accept.

"It's not a matter of giving an assurance of something that we'd do. It's sitting down and making sure that both sides do – as a first step, as a second step, whatever it is – that both sides are taking positive steps," a senior US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"We can't tell them in advance what we're going to do if we don't know what they are going to do."

In Washington US State Department spokesman Ned Price said he was "neither optimistic nor pessimistic."

The Biden administration has put forward a proposal to return both the US and Tehran to the deal, Price said.  That proposal was put forward by three European signatories to the deal known as the E3,  he said.

"If Iran resumes its full compliance with the JCPOA, the United States will be prepared to do the same," Price said.

He added that the Biden administration's overarching objective, "is to ensure that Iran is subject to permanent, verifiable restrictions that prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon."