WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejects the US-Iran nuclear deal with a warning that it “would threaten the survival of Israel”.
In a statement yesterday after the security cabinet held an emergency meeting on the Lausanne agreement, Mr. Netanyahu said the deal also posed a “grave danger to the region and to the world”.
Mr. Netanyahu said “The deal would greatly bolster Iran’s economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East. Such a deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb. Such a deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”
Mr. Netanyahu, who has threatened to use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, warned the agreement might spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and greatly increase the risks of terrible war.
Shortly after the framework agreement was reached, US president Barack Obama, calling from Air Force One, told Mr. Netanyahu the framework would lead to an agreement “that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb”, according to the White House. It said the deal “in no way diminishes” US concerns about “Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats toward Israel” or the US’s commitment to Israel’s security.
Mr. Netanyahu has said preventing Iran from developing an atomic bomb is the mission of his lifetime. Last month, he strongly criticized the emerging agreement in a controversial speech to the US Congress, angering the White House because the visit was co-ordinated with Republican lawmakers.
However, the speech, and intense Israeli lobbying of other participants in the Iran talks, appeared to have made little difference. Strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel would continue to push to cancel or at least improve the deal during the negotiations on the technical details ahead of a June 30th deadline.
“The smiles in Lausanne are detached from the grim reality in which Iran refuses to make any concessions on the nuclear issue and continues to threaten Israel and all other countries in the Middle East,” he said in a written statement.
It remains to be seen if Mr. Netanyahu will continue with efforts to persuade the Republican-controlled Congress to oppose the deal. Former national security advisor Maj Gen Giora Eiland warned that such a strategy would be a mistake.
“The result is that we won’t succeed and we’ll ruin our relations with the United States, and this will have a price in other areas, such as with the Palestinians,” he said.
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