In what is supposed to be a message to Iran, Israel and the United States plan a joint military drill in the coming months, TIME magazine reported Wednesday.
A high-ranking Israeli officer told the magazine that the joint drill will take place in six months, just as the interim agreement signed between Iran and the West on Sunday is due to expire.
“The strategic decision is to continue to make noise,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, told TIME.
“In May there’s going to be a joint training exercise with the Americans,” he added. “It’s going to be big.”
According to the official, “The wind from the Americans into the Israeli sails is, ‘We will maintain our capability to strike in Iran, and one of the ways we show it is to train.’ It will send signals both to Israel and to the Iranians that we are maintaining our capabilities in the military option. The atmosphere is we have to do it big time, we have to do a big show of capabilities and connections.”
Israel and the United States routinely hold joint exercises, and a spokesman for the U.S. European Command said that the exercise planned for this spring was planned independent of events unfolding in the region.
“I think we’re still in the process of deciding the scale of the exercise,” Capt. John W. Ross, the EUCOM spokesman, told TIME.
Last year, Washington significantly reduced the number of its joint military exercises with Israel, probably because of disagreement between the two countries over how best to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.
Relations between Israel and the United States have been strained for quite some time, in light of Israel’s repeated warnings that an interim deal signed with Iran is a “historic mistake.”
President Barack Obama on Monday hit back at those who criticized the deal that was reached over the weekend with Iran, saying that the United States “cannot close the door on diplomacy.”
“Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it’s not the right thing for our security,” Obama charged.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed the deal on Sunday, saying. “As we learn more and more details about the agreement that was achieved last night in Geneva, it becomes increasingly clear how bad and dangerous this agreement is to the world, the region and Israel.”
Shortly after his remarks on Sunday evening, Netanyahu received a phone call from Obama to discuss the deal.
“The two leaders reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters