Netanyahu says Iran nuclear deal is
by Herb Keinon, Reuters, Jpost.com, Nov. 24, 2013
Premier tells cabinet the world has become more dangerous as a result of agreement; Bennett: “Israel does not see itself as bound by this bad, this very bad agreement that has been signed.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu characterized the agreement signed with Iran early Sunday morning as a historic mistake.
Directly contrasting US President Barack Obama who praised the agreement as opening a “new path toward a world that is more secure,” Netanyahu – speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting — said the world has become more dangerous as a result.
“What was agreed last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” he said. “Today the world has become much more dangerous because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step to getting the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
For the first time, he said, the leading powers of the world agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran, while removing sanctions that it has taken years to build up in exchange for “cosmetic Iranian concession that are possible to do away with in a matter of weeks.”
Netanyahu said the consequences of this deal threaten many countries, including Israel. He reiterated what he has said in the past, that Israel is not obligated by the agreement.
“Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction, and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself by itself against any threat” he said. “I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not allow Iran develop a military nuclear capability.”
Netanyahu’s government denounced world powers’ nuclear agreement with Iran on Sunday as a “bad deal” to which Israel would not be bound.
Yet Israeli officials stopped short of threatening unilateral military action that could further isolate the Jewish state and imperil its bedrock alliance with Washington, saying more time was needed to assess the agreement.
“This is a bad deal. It grants Iran exactly what it wanted – both a significant easing in sanctions and preservation of the most significant parts of its nuclear program,” an official in Netanyahu’s office said.
Aimed at ending a dangerous standoff, the agreement between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva.
A senior US official said the agreement halted progress on Iran’s nuclear program, including construction of the Arak research reactor, which is of special concern for the West as it can yield potential bomb material.
It would neutralize Iran’s stockpile of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, which is a close step away from the level needed for weapons, and calls for intrusive UN nuclear inspections, the official said.
The Islamic republic – which denies its nuclear program has hostile designs – has also committed to stop uranium enrichment above a fissile purity of 5 percent, a US fact sheet said.
But that still appeared to fall far short of Netanyahu’s demand for a total rollback of the Iranian nuclear program.
“You stand and shout out until you’re blue in the face, and you try to understand why they’re not listening. The world wanted an agreement,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told Israel’s Army Radio.
“We also said that a diplomatic accord would be good. A diplomatic accord is certainly better than war, a diplomatic accord is better than a situation of permanent confrontation – just not this agreement.”
Lapid said that in the Israel had to pore over the deal: “For example, we still don’t understand exactly what stepping up the monitoring (on Iran’s facilities) means. This is a detailed matter. God really is in the small details.”
Economic Minister Naftali Bennett, another security cabinet member, told Army Radio in a separate interview: “Israel does not see itself as bound by this bad, this very bad agreement that has been signed.”
Neither minister would be drawn on how Israel might respond. Israel, which is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s sole atomic arsenal, sees a mortal menace in a nuclear-armed Iran and has at times threatened to launch a preemptive war against its arch-foe.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Geneva deal required the Netanyahu government to conduct a strategic review.
Asked on Israel Radio whether he felt cheated by the United States for its role in the deal, Lieberman said: “Heaven forbid.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On on Sunday praised the agreement while criticizing the Israeli government for overlooking important components of the deal.
“The Israeli government ministers’ assault on the agreement takes attention away from the fact that clauses of the deal include the most important goal which was the dismantling and rolling back of the fast track to the bomb,” she said.
“The main sanctions that will remain imposed on Iran and the tight supervision by IAEA inspectors who will visit nuclear sites daily are indicative of the fact that this is not just an American achievement, but also an Israeli achievement,” the Meretz chief said. “This is because the goal of supervision, similar to sanctions, is to encumber the race to the bomb and remove the possibility that Iran could fool the international community without anyone taking notice.”
The deputy speaker of parliament, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, said on Saturday the interim agreement signed between Iran and the Western powers was tantamount to the Munich Agreement of the late 1930s.
“Like Czechoslovakia at that time, which was not party to the discussions that effectively sentenced it to death, Israel today watches from the sidelines how its existential interest is being sacrificed by the Western powers,” Feiglin said.
“Any rational person understands that we are in the midst of a process leads to a nuclear-armed Iran,” he said. “For years I have warned about the dangers of the strategy adopted by Israel towards the Iranian nuclear threat.”
Feiglin said that entrusting foreign powers to secure Israel’s defense interests is “disastrous” and “much worse than that which led to the Yom Kippur War.”
The lawmaker called on the Israeli government to declare an immediate end to all contacts with the West over the Iranian question and to make clear that it would not be bound by the agreement signed.
Knesset member Eli Yishai reacted Sunday morning to the deal: “the world’s countries only saw the economic interests of the deal, and not their obligation to the security of Israel.”
He stressed that Israel “has to no one to trust besides god and ourselves”.