Netanyahu said to fear Iran will stick to deal once signed

Officials say PM is concerned Tehran’s compliance will make new sanctions, long-term monitoring of nuclear sites nearly impossible

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, March 29, 2015 (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, March 29, 2015 (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned, rather ironically, that Iran will abide by the terms of a nuclear deal, thus diverting the world’s attention from its nuclear program, and ensuring that renewed sanctions and long-term monitoring of Tehran’s nuclear sites are made nearly impossible, two unnamed officials told Haaretz.

The officials, who were present in a cabinet meeting on April 3, said the prime minister was convinced the Islamic Republic would “keep to every letter in the agreement if indeed one is signed at the end of June,” the newspaper reported early Sunday

“Netanyahu said at the meeting that it would be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not break the agreement,” one official said.

According to the report, the prime minister stressed that Iran’s compliance with the deal would mean that in 10-15 years, when some of the terms expire, it will be difficult to convince the international community to impose new sanctions against Tehran in the event it moves to build nuclear weapons, or persuade the world powers to continue monitoring its nuclear program.

At this point, Iran’s nuclear program will have received a “kosher stamp” from the world and the sanctions will be lifted, the prime minister noted.

During the April 3 cabinet session, it was decided to focus much of Israel’s efforts in convincing members of Congress to back a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker (Rep.) and Bob Menendez (NJ) which would give Capitol Hill the authority to reject a White House-brokered accord with Tehran. The Corker-Menendez bill would oblige Obama to give lawmakers 60 days to examine, and possibly block, a nuclear deal.

President Barack Obama spoke to Corker last week about the bill, and on Saturday night appealed to his political opponents not to “screw up” the deal.

“I don’t understand why it is that everybody’s working so hard to anticipate failure,” Obama told reporters in Panama City on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas.

“My simple point is: let’s wait and see what the deal is… And if, in fact, we’re not satisfied that it cuts off the pathways for Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, then we won’t sign it.”

The president said he was “concerned” that those opposed to the agreement “will use a procedural argument essentially to screw up the possibility of a deal.”

On Saturday night, Netanyahu 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.

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.

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