US President Barack Obama told a skeptical Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday that the freshly sealed Iran nuclear deal was in Israel’s “national security interest” and dispatched his secretary of defense to the Jewish state for talks.
The White House said Obama called the Israeli prime minister, who has described the accord as a “historic mistake,” announcing Ashton Carter would travel to Israel next week.
“The president told the prime minister that today’s agreement on the nuclear issue will not diminish our concerns regarding Iran’s support for terrorism and threats toward Israel,” the White House said.
During their Tuesday evening phone conversation, Netanyahu expressed Israel’s concerns over the deal, maintaining that the Islamic Republic will obtain nuclear weapons with or without the agreement.
“The prime minister emphasized that the deal raises two main dangers: It will allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons — if it keeps to the deal, at the end of the 10-15 years, if it breaks it, before then,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.
“In addition, it will pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the Iranian terror and war machine which threatens Israel and the entire world,” the statement quoted Netanyahu as telling Obama.
Netanyahu said earlier on Tuesday that Israel was not bound by the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, signalling he remained ready to order military action.
His harsh criticism of the agreement came after he warned for months that the deal being negotiated would not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons that could be used to target Israel.
He also argued that lifting sanctions would allow Iran to further support proxy militants and add to the instability rocking parts of the Middle East.
Netanyahu has taken his campaign to the US Congress and the UN General Assembly, but ultimately failed to block the agreement.