As Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama celebrated a series of resolutions on nuclear proliferation that they supposedly reached with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the complete opposite tone.
In a speech today before Israel’s cabinet, CNN and the Washington Post report Netanyahu reiterating Israel’s desire to completely dismantle Iranian uranium enrichment programs, and halt any nuclear developments by Iran.
“What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, but a historic mistake… Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” he told he cabinet.
Iran, meanwhile, claims that the nuclear program is a peaceful one, that it is simply exercising a right to enrich uranium like other nations, and that only the medical research and energy industries will benefit. Not everyone in the international community agrees with Iran’s assessment, even though the country has yet to officially enrich weapons-grade uranium.
If Iran makes the effort to start, then Israel appears prepared to preemptively strike. Israel’s intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz, compared Iran to North Korea: “The last-second amendments put into the agreement are far from satisfactory. The current deal, like the 2007 failed deal with North Korea, is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb.”
Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, believes the deal “brings us to a nuclear arms race… The world has to understand that this is the biggest diplomatic victory Iran has had in recent years. There’s no doubt the agreement recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium.”
White House descriptions of the deal seem a bit tamer than Israel’s. A fact sheet from D.C. called the deal “the first meaningful limits that Iran has accepted on its nuclear program in close to a decade.” It went on to say that, “With respect to the comprehensive solution, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed…Put simply, this first step expires in six months, and does not represent an acceptable end state to the United States.”
The White House acknowledged Iran’s official concessions in the agreement: all enrichment of uranium above 5 percent is to be halted; the stockpile of 3.5 percent enriched uranium is to be frozen; any uranium enriched to 20 percent is to be neutralized or diluted; and all activity at the Arak nuclear reactor (which has the potential to produce weapons-grade plutonium) is to be halted.
Netanyahu had been attempting to convince world leaders that Iran would be producing a “bad deal.” After making his case to French President François Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin, relations between the White House and Israel seemed strained.
Isaac Herzog, the leader of Israel’s opposition Labor party, called out Netanyahu, saying “Netanyahu must do everything in order to fix the damage that was caused from the public clash with the U.S. and return to an intimate relationship with President Obama and other world leaders.”
The most dramatic quotation came from Israel’s economic minister, Natfatli Bennett, who said “If a nuclear suitcase blows up in New York or Madrid five years from now, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning… There is still a long campaign ahead of us [and] we will continue to act in every possible way.”[Image via Wikimedia Commons]