Gantz reveals Iranian drone base, says it is used to train terror groups

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday revealed the location of an Iranian air base that he said is being used to train Tehran’s regional proxies to operate advanced drones.

“Iran has created ‘proxy terrorism,’ under which it formed organized terror armies that help it achieve its economic, diplomatic and military goals,” Gantz said. “One of the significant tools that Iran has developed to assist its proxies is an array of unmanned aerial vehicles that can travel thousands of kilometers, and thousands of them are spread throughout Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

“Iran is even trying to transfer knowhow to the Gaza Strip that will allow Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to produce UAVs,” he added, speaking at a counterterrorism conference at the newly renamed Reichman University — formerly the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

According to Gantz, the UAV base is located north of the city of Isfahan in central Iran and serves as “a linchpin of the Iranian effort to export aerial terror to the region.”

In his speech, the defense minister also called for immediate “snapback” sanctions on Iran following an International Atomic Energy Agency report last week, which found that Tehran has quadrupled its stock of 60 percent enriched uranium since May.

“Iran does not respect the agreements it has signed, and there’s no reason to believe it will respect any agreements it will sign in the future. The time has come for action,” he said, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal, which barred Tehran from enriching uranium beyond 3.5%.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at a counterterrorism conference at Reichman University in Herzliya on September 12, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

A year after the United States abrogated the agreement in 2018, putting in place heavy economic sanctions, Iran began violating its terms repeatedly in an apparent effort to raise pressure on the other signatories of the deal.

Since US President Joe Biden entered office earlier this year, the Americans and Iranians have been engaged in indirect negotiations in Vienna toward a mutual return to the deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Those talks have stalled in recent months, leading US officials to warn that the agreement may soon be abandoned entirely in favor of a more aggressive effort to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“I call on all of the countries that are still party to the nuclear agreement to put in place the permanent sanctions that are in the deal. This is the time for a ‘snapback,’” Gantz said, referring to economic penalties that the other signatories to the deal — China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom — are allowed to put in place in cases of clear violations of the agreement.

Referring to Beijing and Moscow’s opposition to such measures, Gantz added: “It is time that all world powers, including Russia and China, join the fight to preserve global stability.”

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