Netanyahu warns P5+1 away from deal with ‘unreformed’ Iran

Prime minister sends letters to capitals urging negotiators not to rush into ‘bad’ nuclear agreement

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) in the Israeli parliament, November 10, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) in the Israeli parliament, November 10, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned nations negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program that Tehran’s recent calls to eliminate Israel show it is “unreformed,” and urged them not to sign a bad deal.

Netanyahu said he ordered his office to send letters to foreign ministries in the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany to warn them against coming to a deal with Tehran, amid reports the sides were close to reaching an agreement to ease sanctions in return for curbs on nuclear enrichment.

The prime minister said he urged the ministers to see statements from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as proof that the country had not reformed and still sought to destroy Israel.

“The leader of this country that is depicted by some as moderate, the Islamic State of Iran, has said in the last 48 hours: 1) that he calls for the annihilation of Israel — his words, not mine; 2) he gives nine ways and reasons of how and why Israel should be annihilated — his words, not mine,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Over the weekend, Khamenei posted messages on his Twitter feed outlining a nine-point plan to “eliminate Israel.”

“He’s publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” Netanyahu said. “This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power.”

The missive came as negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran met in Oman in what is considered a last-ditch effort to reach a deal before the November 24 deadline.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Monday for a second straight day with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union senior adviser Catherine Ashton in Oman’s capital. With no sign of an imminent breakthrough, the three diplomats headed back into discussions Monday evening to continue the talks.

But Netanyahu said the sides should not “rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama said a “large gap” remained between the sides, and on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden told a meeting of Jewish leaders that the US would not sign a bad deal.

“Let me say to you clearly in Bidenesque way: We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon — period,” he said in an address Monday to the annual conference of the Jewish Federations of North America. “I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line were I not certain when I say we mean it.”

Netanyahu also accused Iran of deceiving the international community with regard to its nuclear program, which it insists is peaceful, and called Tehran a “terrorist regime.”

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that its attempts to probe allegations that Tehran worked on nuclear weapons were deadlocked — a finding that all but ruled out a full nuclear deal between the six world powers and Iran by the November 24 target date.

Iran and the six world powers are scheduled to meet in Vienna on November 18 for another round of negotiations.

AFP contributed to this report.

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