Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening railed against the emerging Iran deal with world powers, saying the inspections of Tehran’s nuclear sites — which the international community has pledged will ensure it does not break out to the bomb — are “not serious.”
He also sounded unconvinced that the US-led world powers would resist Iran’s demand for sanctions to be lifted as soon as the deal goes into force, rather than in phases, depending on Iranian compliance, as the US has pledged. “We see that the sanctions are being lifted, immediately, according to Iran’s demand, and this is without Iran having changed its policy of aggression everywhere,” Netanyahu said, according to an English text released by his office.
“To my regret, all of the things I warned about vis-à-vis the framework agreement that was put together in Lausanne are coming true before our eyes,” Netanyahu declared. “This framework gives the leading terrorist state in the world a certain path to nuclear bombs, which would threaten Israel, the Middle East and the entire world.”
He criticized the world powers for allowing Iran’s nuclear infrastructure to remain intact as part of the framework deal: “We see that Iran is being left with significant nuclear capabilities; it is not dismantling them, it is preserving them. We also see that the inspection is not serious. How can such a country be trusted?! As of now there is no real monitoring,” he asserted.
Citing Iranian terrorism and violence “not just against Israel, but in Yemen, the Bab el-Mandeb, the Middle East and through global terrorist networks,” he warned, “The most dangerous terrorist state in the world must not be allowed to have the most dangerous weapons in the world. Therefore, we are committed to try and prevent the bad agreement and replace it with a good agreement.”
Netanyahu was speaking in Or Akiva at a Mimouna event, a North African Jewish tradition held each year to celebrate the end of Passover with honey-covered pancakes called mufletot and other sweets.
Iran and six world powers reached a framework agreement last week aimed at keeping Tehran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon. No text was signed or finalized, and there are major discrepancies over what was agreed, including over the process of sanctions relief. The deal is to be finalized by the end of June.
It is meant to curb Iran’s nuclear program while giving Tehran quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and financial assets blocked by international sanctions.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Thursday urged Iranian negotiators not to accept any “unconventional inspections” of Iran’s nuclear facilities, also stressing that the inspection of military facilities would not be permitted. The US has insisted the international scrutiny will be ironclad and prevent Tehran from clandestinely building nuclear weapons.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, also speaking on Thursday, said the sanctions against the Islamic Republic must be lifted “on the same day” a deal is signed, in comments echoed by Khamenei. The pace at which the sanctions will be lifted is one of the many outstanding issues that still has to be agreed in the final accord. Western governments, which have imposed their own sanctions over and above those adopted by the United Nations, have been pushing for relief to happen only gradually. The US has stressed relief will come in phases, as Iran is pushed back to a potential breakout to the bomb of at least a year.
Despite US assurances to the contrary, Israel is concerned that economic pressure on Iran will be lifted precipitously, and that once removed, the sanctions — which took years to set into place — will be hard to restore if Iran violates the deal.
Israeli sources on Friday said the demand by Iran’s leaders for the immediate lifting of all sanctions on the day a deal on its nuclear program takes effect represented proof that the US-led powers are adopting an unworkable approach to thwarting Iran’s push to the bomb.
Channel 2 News said Israel regards the Iranian leaders’ declarations “as proof of its central argument” against the emerging accord: “You can’t make a deal based on trust with a regime that can’t be trusted.”
Despite its relentless objections to the deal, Israel actually believes that Iran will take it, the Channel 2 report said, because the deal as it stands is good for Iran and will pave its path to bomb. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told the TV station that Israel would spend the coming weeks “trying to get some of the loopholes” in the agreement closed. In a Times of Israel interview on Wednesday Steinitz complained that the deal, which he called “a big mistake,” neither full freezes nor fully inspects the Iranian program.
No written text was agreed and signed in Lausanne, but the State Department insisted Thursday that it had been decided between the parties that any sanctions relief for Iran would only come once curbs on its enrichment were verified, and when Iran’s potential breakout time to the bomb had been extended to a year or more.
During the event on Saturday night, Netanyahu also urged national unity and promised to reduce the cost of living.
“The dust of the elections has settled, we must improve the unity among the citizens of Israel and people of Israel — and we will,” he said.
With regard to improving economic conditions and dealing with the housing crisis, the prime minister said: “We promised to do this and it will be the first task” of the next coalition.