Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced that he was dispatching his national security adviser to Washington to discuss the particulars of a permanent agreement with Iran. That permanent deal, he said, must ensure “the dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability.”
“I spoke last night with President [Barack] Obama. We agreed that in the coming days an Israeli team led by the national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, will go out to discuss with the United States the permanent accord with Iran,” Netanyahu told members of his Likud party.
The two heads of state on Sunday evening discussed the deal reached by the P5+1 states and Iran, less than 24 hours after the agreement was signed.
The prime minister reacted to the news of the interim deal between world powers and Tehran by calling it a “historic mistake.” In their phone conversation, initiated by Obama, Netanyahu asked the president — who kept Israel in the dark for months about the back-channel US-Iran negotiations that helped shape the deal — to begin US-Israel consultations on the permanent deal right away, and Obama consented, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. Hence the dispatch of Yossi Cohen.
On Monday, Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to keeping Iran from acquiring a bomb but started to shift his focus from the interim deal to the intended permanent one, saying, “This accord must bring about one outcome: the dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear capability.”
“I would be happy if I could join those voices around the world that are praising the Geneva agreement,” Netanyahu remarked. “It is true that the international pressure which we applied was partly successful and has led to a better result than what was originally planned. But this is still a bad deal. It reduces pressure on Iran without receiving anything tangible in return. And the Iranians who laughed all the way to the bank are themselves saying that this deal has saved them.”
The six-month pact signed early Sunday rolls back some sanctions on Iran in return for limits on nuclear enrichment, the shuttering of certain sites and an agreement by Tehran to allow some international oversight.
The White House on Sunday said that Netanyahu and Obama “reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” and Obama told Netanyahu that he wants the two sides “to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution.”
Obama also asked Netanyahu not to lobby allies in Congress to push legislation for more sanctions on Iran, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported.
“The President underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote on Facebook.
“Consistent with our commitment to consult closely with our Israeli friends, the president told the prime minister that he wants the United States and Israel to begin consultations immediately regarding our efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution,” said a statement by the White House. “The president underscored that the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” it said.
Israeli TV news reported late Sunday that Netanyahu was “extremely angry” with Obama over the deal, that he fears the international sanctions regime will now crumble, that the US had not come clean to Israel over a secret back channel of talks with Iran, and that Israel’s military option for intervening in Iran is off the table for the foreseeable future now that the interim deal is done.
“The president provided the prime minister with an update on negotiations in Geneva and underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which is the aim of the ongoing negotiations,” the White House said.
According to the Associated Press, Obama updated Netanyahu on the secret talks channel in September.
Ilan Ben Zion and Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.