Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday fired another volley in what has turned into an ongoing, very public war of words with the Obama administration, saying that from what he had seen of a proposed interim solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, the terms would allow Tehran to advance toward an atomic weapons capability while throwing off the yoke of economic sanctions.
“Israel prefers a diplomatic option to other options, but we demand a real diplomatic solution in order to dismantle the military nuclear capability of Iran,” Netanayahu said at an alternative energy conference in Tel Aviv. “The proposal on the table, which we have come to know in detail, is worse than a bad deal. It leaves Iran with nuclear capabilities for military purposes, and gives it significant relief in sanctions. An additional danger is that it gives legitimacy to Iran as a nuclear threshold state. This is against the interest of the international community.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry has stated several times this week that Netanyahu’s acerbic criticism of the proposed deal with Iran, which fell through during nuclear talks over the weekend in Geneva, was premature, as the Israeli leader was unaware of the terms under discussion. Netanyahu’s reiteration Tuesday that Israel had “come to know in detail” the terms of the proposal appeared to come in response to Kerry’s accusations.
One of the prime minister’s primary objections to the proposed deal was that it would provide sanctions relief to Tehran while allowing it to continue to enrich uranium, thus providing the economic solace, and the time, it needed to work toward a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful in nature.
“Each passing day Iran is under increasing financial pressure,” said Netanyahu. ”There is no need to rush into a bad deal. We should use the time to obtain a good deal that halts the nuclear capabilities of Iran’s military. The deadline for achieving a deal like this one is the day when such an agreement is reached.”
Kerry said Tuesday that he did not want Congress to approve any new sanctions on Iran while negotiations were ongoing. He was set to brief members of the Senate Banking Committee to that effect on Wednesday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said he would make clear to the senators that putting any new sanctions in place “would be a mistake.” As a senator, she said, Kerry had voted in favor of Iranian sanctions several times, but a vote for or against sanctions right now is really a “vote for or against diplomacy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.