Western powers are too eager to rush into a nuclear deal with Iran and ease sanctions on the Islamic Republic without waiting for Iran to make its intentions clear, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi said Sunday.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Hanegbi also emphasized that Israel is not looking for a confrontation with the United States on the issue, but that in the case of existential threats, tension may sometimes be unavoidable.
Hanegbi, a former minister for nuclear affairs and longtime head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and still a member of that most powerful of Knesset panels, is considered a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on nuclear and strategic issues.
“There is the risk of the Americans wanting to avoid a serious crisis” with Iran over its nuclear program, the legislator told The Times of Israel earlier this month, because such a standoff “could place them in the last place that they want to be — facing the dilemma of confrontation or withdrawal, military action or acceptance of the Iranian nuclear program, similar to that of North Korea.
“Despite their good intentions and the fact that, in my opinion, Obama understands that this is part of his legacy — to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear — I do not believe that I can predict the degree of decisiveness that the Americans will display during the negotiations.”
The US and five other world powers are reportedly close to signing a deal with Tehran to ease non-core sanctions as part of a first step toward curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Israel has come out fiercely against such a deal, with Netanyahu calling it “bad and dangerous.”
The lead US negotiator, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman visited Israel to brief Israeli leaders following the latest round of P5+1 talks with Iran in Geneva last week, but left without an understanding with Jerusalem, highlighting the deep rift that has developed between the capitals over the nuclear issue.
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have defended the deal as a necessary diplomatic step.
Israel on Sunday welcomes French President Francois Hollande, whose country was the lone voice of opposition to the deal with Tehran. Netanyahu will reportedly urge Hollande to continue opposing a deal that lets Iran continue to enrich uranium.
According to the report, Israeli officials have come to terms with the fact that a partial deal with Iran will be signed, possibly as soon as this month. However, they say two clauses favorable to Israel’s stance will be added, including demands that the Arak heavy water reactor be kept shut and that uranium enriched to over 20 percent be converted into fuel rods.