Netanyahu: Trump created ‘opportunity’ to fix Iran nuke deal
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Netanyahu: Trump created ‘opportunity’ to fix Iran nuke deal

PM says US president’s decertification of accord, levying of sanctions on Revolutionary Guards could help thwart Iran’s regional ambitions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 15, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Abir Sultan)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 15, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Abir Sultan)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised US President Donald Trump’s decertification of Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it presented an “opportunity” to fix the accord and thwart the Islamic Republic’s regional ambitions.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Trump’s decision to not recertify the agreement would help prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which the prime minister said it was on the path to doing under the current accord.

“I believe that any responsible government, and whoever seeks to promote peace and security in the world, needs to take advantage of the opportunity that President Trump’s decision has created in order to improve the agreement or abrogate it and, of course, stop Iran’s aggression,” said Netanyahu.

The prime minister also praised Trump’s decision to introduce new sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which backs regional terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

“It is self-evident that the [US] president’s decision to impose sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards needs to be supported. The Revolutionary Guards are Iran’s main arm in spreading terror around the world and, of course, in spreading its aggression throughout the Middle East,” he said.

In a video clip released on Friday, Netanyahu praised Trump’s announcement later that day, in which the US president said he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal and vowed to also take a tougher approach toward Tehran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism.

US President Donald Trump speaks on Iran policy from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In his comments Sunday, Netanyahu also said he had instructed the Foreign Ministry to prepare for Israel’s departure from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization following the United States’ decision to withdraw from the body.

Echoing US criticism of UNESCO’s “anti-Israel bias,” Netanyahu said the organization “has become a platform for delusional, anti-Israeli and – in effect – anti-Semitic decisions.”

Despite UNESCO’s selection of a new leader, who on Friday called on Israel and the US to reconsider their decision to leave the organization, Netanyahu said while he hoped France’s Audrey Azoulay would usher in a new regime, he was not counting on it.

“We hope that the organization will change its ways but we are not pinning hopes on this; therefore, my directive to leave the organization stands and we will move forward to carry it out,” he said.

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