Netanyahu says ‘better’ Iran deal can still fix ‘historic mistake’

Meeting with Croatian president, PM warns current agreement between Tehran, world powers will lead to regional nuclear arms race

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said an alternative nuclear deal with Iran that would curb the Islamic State’s aggression is still within reach, and railed against the agreement struck last week as a “historic mistake.”

“No agreement is better than this bad agreement,” said Netanyahu, reiterating his denouncement of the accord struck July 14.

Under the agreement, Iran has agreed to dismantle or mothball much of its nuclear industry in return for an easing and eventual lifting of sanctions. World powers have called it a historic opportunity to set relations with Iran on a new path.

Netanyahu has argued, however, that it is not enough to keep Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons that could be used to target Israel. He has said that military force remains on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, although experts say unilateral strikes by Israel appear highly unlikely for now.

“A better deal that would tie the lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and would roll back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure — such a deal would be tied to ending Iran’s aggression and terrorism. That’s the real alternative,” he said.

Netanyahu addressed the issue during a press conference with visiting Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is on her first official visit to Israel since taking office in February.

The prime minister’s remarks came as opponents and proponents of the Iran deal lobbied Congress, which has 60 days to review the accord. This fall it will determine whether to agree to the terms of the agreement which seeks to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. President Barack Obama insists the agreement is beneficial to American interests.

Netanyahu, however, said Wednesday that the deal reached by the P5+1 world powers and Tehran would trigger a regional arms race and violent conflict.

“We’re told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war,” Netanyahu said. “But the very opposite is true. By strengthening the terrorist state of Iran, this deal makes war not less likely, but more likely.

“The expectation that Iran will become a military nuclear power will be enough in itself to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, the most volatile region on earth. And how will that end?” he said.

The agreement, which would see the lifting of international sanctions and unfreeze billions in funds, would funnel money into Iran’s coffers, which would be used “to fund its terror machine” in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere, Netanyahu said.

AFP contributed to this report.

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