JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United States will make available to Israel advanced new military capabilities, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.
The advanced weapons include anti-radiation missiles, advanced radars for Israel’s fleet of fighter jets, KC-135 refueling aircraft and the V-22 Osprey, which the U.S. has not released to any other nation, Hagel told reporters Monday following a meeting in Tel Aviv with his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Yaalon.
Hagel said the new equipment, as well as Israel’s participation in the joint strike fighter program, "ensures that Israel will maintain air superiority for the next generation."
"These decisions underscore that the military-to-military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is stronger than ever and that defense cooperation will only continue to deepen in the future," Hagel said.
Questioned about Iran, Hagel and Yaalon stressed that the Islamic Republic must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"All military options and every option must remain on the table when dealing with Iran," Hagel said. "Our position is Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon."
Hagel reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of Iran’s nuclear aspirations.
"Israel is a sovereign nation. Every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself. That calculation has to be made by the sovereign nation," he said.
The United States and Israel, Hagel said, "are not only in complete agreement on the policy about Iran, but also we are in total agreement on if a time should get to a point here where we will then have to develop other strategies or other options, and I don’t think there is any daylight there, any gap."
Israel’s strategy regarding the military nuclear aspirations of this Iranian regime is very clear, Yaalon said.
"By one way or another, the military nuclear project of Iran should be stopped," he said. "Having said that, we believe that the military option, which is well discussed, should be the last resort anyhow.
"But without a credible military option, there is no chance that the Iranian regime will realize that it has to stop the military nuclear project. And in certain circumstances the military option should be exercised. So this is our very clear policy, and of course we keep our right, and capability, to defend ourselves by ourselves."
Hagel met Monday evening with Israeli President Shimon Peres. The defense chief is scheduled to visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on his Middle East trip.