Netanyahu Did Not Hold Back When Reacting to Iran Nuclear Agreement
Israeli government ministers lambasted the Iran nuclear deal to which the U.S. and five other nations agreed Sunday morning, calling it a “bad deal,” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal a “historic mistake.”
“What was accomplished last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it’s a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “Today the world has become much more dangerous, because the most dangerous regime in the world took a meaningful step toward acquiring the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
Netanyahu thus directly contradicted President Barack Obama’s assessment that the deal would open “a new path toward a world that is more secure” as well as Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurances that the deal would make Israel and other U.S. allies safer.
“For the first time the world’s leading powers agreed to the enrichment of uranium in Iran, while ignoring the Security Council resolutions that they themselves championed,” the prime minister said according to the Times of Israel. “These sanctions have been removed for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be canceled in weeks. This agreement and what it means threaten many countries, and including, of course, Israel. Israel is not bound by this agreement. The regime in Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction and Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
“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 unnamed official in Netanyahu’s office said earlier on Sunday.
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Capitol Hill skepticism over Iran nuclear deal results in bipartisan call for more sanctions
Congress is voicing widespread, bipartisan skepticism about the deal between the United States and Iran to curb that country’s nuclear program, with a group of top senators vowing Sunday to impose more sanctions on the isolated Middle East country.
The announcement follows the overnight deal in which the U.S. and five other world powers agreed to ease billions of dollars worth of import-export sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear-enrichment program and a range of reaction off Capitol Hill.
“A nuclear weapons-capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security of the United States and its allies and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability,” the group said. “We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible.”
The group of 15 senators included Democrats Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, as well as Republicans Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Cornyn of Texas.
Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that Iran was celebrating because its deal overnight with the U.S. and the five other world powers allows it to continue to enrich uranium while getting billions in crippling sanctions lifted.
“They’re spiking the ball in the end zone,” Corker said.
He also said his greatest concern was that the Obama administration wouldn’t follow through on the terms of the deal — including daily inspections on Iran’s nuclear facilities and ensuring that the country sticks to new thresholds for nuclear enrichment — below levels toward building a nuclear weapon.
He also repeatedly said he didn’t want the interim deal to “become the norm” and suggested Congress is ready to reinstate sanctions and impose more.
The key points of the deal require Iran to halt progress toward its disputed nuclear program, in exchange for modest relief from U.S. economic sanctions that include now having access to $4.2 billion from oil sales.
Iran agrees to turn off centrifuges, stop construction and fuel production at an unfinished nuclear reactor, limit its enrichment of uranium – needed to make a nuclear bomb — to 5 percent and dilute its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
Menendez, the foreign relations committee chairman, was among the most critical Democrats.
“The interim agreement reached is but a beginning and a product of that policy,” he said in a separate statement. “In my view, this agreement did not proportionately reduce Iran’s nuclear program for the relief it is receiving. Given Iran’s history of duplicity, it will demand ongoing, on the ground verification.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, offered what appears to be some of the most unequivocal support for the deal.
“I support the agreement … which I believe is a significant step toward solving one of the most difficult security challenges facing the world today,” she said, while also expressing caution. “By any standard, this agreement is a giant step forward and should not be undermined by additional sanctions at this time.”
Cornyn was among the most critical of the historic deal that President Obama is hailing as an “important first step.”
“Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care” tweeted Cornyn, referring to the White House and ObamaCare.
His remark drew sharp rebuke from Obama 2008 presidential campaign manager David Ploufee.
“No, a real distraction would be war. Like Iraq,” he tweeted in response.