Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday railed against the emerging nuclear agreement with Iran as “a bad deal” and said Israel would prepare to defend itself in its wake.
Israel’s defense chief spoke at a session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as diplomats from six world powers and Tehran were reportedly on the cusp of reaching an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of crippling sanctions.
Negotiators from Iran and major powers were “working hard” to secure a nuclear deal on Monday, but “political will” is still needed, an Iranian diplomat involved in the Vienna talks said.
The deal in the works — “as we know it” — would permit Iran “to be in the nuclear threshold zone and even become a nuclear threshold state,” Ya’alon said.
After such a deal is reached, “of course we will need to continue to prepare to defend ourselves with our own forces,” he said.
“Essentially, the deal whitewashes all that Iran has done in violation of decisions, including the Security Council’s, the international community’s and everything connected to nuclear proliferation,” he said.
Ya’alon reiterated Israel’s concern regarding a regional nuclear arms race triggered by Iran’s arrival at the nuclear threshold, mentioning Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in particular as states that would consider developing nukes to counterbalance Tehran.
He cautioned against Iran’s support of terrorist groups across the Middle East, specifically Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and said that no deal concerning Iran’s nuclear program entails curbing its missile program or support for Houthi separatists in Yemen.
“This of course threatens Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and other states, and this matter isn’t up for discussion whatsoever,” he said.
“In fact after the deal we’re getting Iran as a nuclear threshold state that continues to support terrorism and political subversion, and especially is stronger economically,” Ya’alon said.
AFP contributed to this report.