Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged US lawmakers to combat Iranian aggression by rejecting the nuclear deal and dismissed talk of military compensation to Israel as futile and ineffective.
The deal “endangers our survival,” Netanyahu told ABC’s “This Week” program, adding that Western intelligence agencies aren’t foolproof and may fail to discern if Tehran violates the deal and clandestinely breaks out to the bomb.
“The deal endangers our security, our survival even, and the security of the Middle East and the world,” Netanyahu said, during a US media blitz in the wake of the deal.
Some Israeli and US officials have floated the idea of US military compensation to Israel in the wake of the deal — a suggestion Netanyahu immediately dismissed.
“Everybody talks about compensating Israel. If this deal is supposed to make Israel and its Arab neighbors safer, why should we need to be compensated with anything? And how can you compensate my country against a terrorist regime that is sworn to our destruction and going to get a path to nuclear bombs?” Netanyahu asked.
Echoing Netanyahu’s statement, an Israeli official told AP Sunday that Jerusalem is not prepared to discuss American compensation for the Iran deal, saying that would imply acceptance of the accord.
Netanyahu also questioned the West’s ability to properly monitor Iranian nuclear activity, noting that Iranian underground nuclear activity in Qom and Natanz went undetected by Western intelligence agencies for years.
“I have full respect for our intelligence but it’s very thin ice. You simply can’t speak with confidence about knowing a covert path to the bomb, uninspected sites, because you simply don’t know. Intelligence, and the best intelligence in the world, is still very thin ice,” he said.
Iran and the world powers signed an agreement last Tuesday in Vienna that mandates the Islamic Republic scale back some of its nuclear capabilities in exchange for a rollback of economic sanctions.
According to Netanyahu, an ideal agreement would be based on the notion of “dismantle for dismantle” — that Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure in exchange for sanctions relief.
“That was the original administration position and I think it was the right one,” he said, lamenting that under the current deal “Iran gets to … keep its infrastructure and it gets the full dismantling of sanctions in a very short time.”
“The hardliners in Iran are actually going to come out strong, because they’re getting everything they want,” Netanyahu said. “They’re getting a pathway down the line within a decade or so to the capacity to be a threshold state with practically zero breakout to many nuclear bombs and hundreds and billions of dollars which they will siphon off to their terror and war machine.”
Iran will continue its aggression across the Middle East and threaten the security of the world, Netanyahu continued in a separate interview with CBS news minutes later.
Pointing to a Saturday speech in which Iran’s supreme leader hailed his people for demanding death to America and Israel, Netanyahu said that despite hopes that the deal may moderate the Iranian regime, Tehran still remains as unrepentant and hostile as ever.
“The ruler of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, says after this agreement is concluded that he’s going to continue the battle against the United States. He’s going to continue supporting terrorists in the Middle East and in the world. He’s committed to Israel’s destruction. And this regime has just received a dream deal,” Netanyahu said.
“I think the right thing to do is merely not to go ahead with this deal. There are many things to be done to stop Iran’s aggression and this deal is not one of them,” he said.
“It’s not good for anyone’s security – not ours, not yours,” he said.
Marissa Newman contributed to this report.