The world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran will lead to war and a “nightmare” regional nuclear arms race, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in an online address to American and Canadian Jews on Tuesday evening.
Netanyahu, who has been seeking to sway US lawmakers to thwart the agreement, accused the deal’s supporters in the Obama administration of spreading “disinformation about the deal and about Israel’s position” in its bid to rally support.
He pointed out a series of “fatal flaws” in the deal, and asserted that it “doesn’t block Iran’s path to bomb,” but rather “paves” its path to the bomb.
The agreement, a legacy foreign policy project of US President Barack Obama, gives Iran “two paths to the bomb,” enabling Tehran to obtain a weapon either by keeping the deal and waiting for it to elapse, or by violating it, Netanyahu warned.
The Conference of Presidents and Jewish Federations in the US and Canada had encouraged viewers of Netanyahu’s address to join the call through computers and cellphones as well as through group viewings at Jewish institutions.
During his brief address Tuesday, the prime minister responded to several questions that had been sent in in advance.
One of the questions related to Israel’s alternative to the nuclear deal – the administration has insisted that there is no viable alternative to the deal, and that opponents had no solution to offer other than war.
“Increase the sanctions, increase the pressure,” Netanyahu said, in presenting his alternative to the deal, asserting that Iran would not back away from the negotiating table, even if subjected to harsher sanctions, and would abide more stringent curbs on its nuclear program.
He argued that the opposition to the deal across the Israeli political spectrum was indicative of the “dangerous” nature of the agreement.
“A huge majority of Israelis” oppose it, he said, claiming that since it is not a partisan issue in Israel, it shouldn’t be a partisan issue in the US either. “Rise above partisan politics,” he urged. “Judge [the deal] on substance, and on substance alone.”
“Oppose this dangerous deal,” he implored.
Netanyahu accused supporters of the deal of trying to “stifle debate” and said they have been misrepresenting the agreement in order to win support.
“This deal will bring war,” he warned. “Iran can keep the deal or Iran can cheat on the deal,” Either way, it will have the bomb, Netanyahu said, before adding, “hundreds of bombs.”
Furthermore, he said, addressing the audience, Iran has been building intercontinenta
He also predicted a nuclear arms race in the Middle East — “the most volatile part of the planet” — in the wake of the deal.
“That’s a real nightmare,” Netanyahu added.
“Here’s the bottom line,” he said. “Oppose this bad deal.”
The American Jewish community is seen as a key barometer for the fate of the deal, as Congress enjoys a 60-day review period of the agreement, before a crucial vote on a resolution of disapproval or approval in September. A number of Jewish organizations have called on members to lobby their representatives to oppose the agreement, which critics say does not prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear power in the long-term.
Other organizations, like the American Jewish Committee, say that they are still reviewing the details of the agreement, and have yet to determine an official stance on it.
J Street has been at the vanguard of the deal’s advocates, quickly announcing its support for the agreement and arguing that it presents the best opportunity to rein in Iran’s spinning centrifuges. The lefty lobbying organization was one of the participants in a recent conference call with Obama, during which the president warned against the power of mega-donors who opposed the deal, and called on supporters to speak up in support of the agreement.
Rebbeca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report.