Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would not recertify the nuclear accord with Iran, saying Trump had “boldly confronted Iran’s terrorist regime.”
In a video posted to YouTube, the Israeli leader said: “If the Iran deal is left unchanged, one thing is absolutely certain — in a few year’s time, the world’s foremost terrorist regime will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons.”
He said Trump’s actions on Friday create an opportunity to fix “this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism.”
“That’s why Israel embraces this opportunity, and that’s why every responsible government and any person concerned with the peace and security of the world should do so as well,” he added.
Netanyahu recorded his response before the start of Shabbat on Friday evening — that is, before Trump had spoken — having been briefed about the speech’s content in a phone call from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump warned the United States may yet walk away from “one of the worst” agreements in history.
“I am announcing that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said in an highly anticipated address on America’s strategy for containing Tehran.
“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence and terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear break out.”
The US leader also announced tough new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while stopping short of declaring the powerful group a terrorist organization.
Trump warned that the US could “terminate the deal” if it is unable to bring about better terms and better enforcement of the current accord.
Trump also said that following a review by his administration he planned to take “major steps” to ensure “Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon.”
He said the administration would seek to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities and would impose additional sanctions on the regime to block its financing of terrorism, including “tough sanctions” on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The new strategy, he said, would also seek to address the proliferation of Iran’s missiles and weapons.
Trump accused the Obama administration of lifting sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear accord “just before” they could cripple Tehran and cause it to collapse.
“The Iran deal is one of the worst and one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” he said.
He added that “in just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards nuclear weapons breakout…What is the purpose of a deal that, at best, only delays” Iranian nuclear ambitions? he asked.
Furthermore, Trump said Tehran had failed to live up to certain parts of the agreement and was “not living up to the spirit of the deal.”
The president said Iran was “under the control of a fanatical regime” that has “spread death, destruction and chaos all around the globe.” He warned that “history has shown that the longer we ignore a threat the more dangerous that threat becomes.”
He said the regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and provides assistance to Hezbollah and Hamas, among others.
“The regime’s two favorite chants are ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel,'” he noted.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said earlier Friday, ahead of the much-anticipated speech, that Trump will also ask Congress to impose new, unilateral “trigger points” that would reinstate sanctions against Tehran if it crosses certain thresholds.
The former head of Exxon Mobil said the main “trigger points” the administration wanted to address were to outlast the “sunset” provisions in the deal that allow restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to expire and barring Tehran from developing and testing ballistic missiles.
He went on to say that the US did not believe it would “re-write” the 2015 nuclear accord struck between Iran and P5+1 world powers, but potentially forge a separate deal in conjunction with it. He acknowledged that Iran has said it is not amenable to renegotiating.