Netanyahu warns nuclear deal would free Iran to build arms

Published: March 3, 2015
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Tuesday that the deal being negotiated between world powers and Iran would leave Tehran free to develop nuclear weapons.

In an impassioned address to the US Congress, conducted even as Secretary of State John Kerry was in nuclear talks in Switzerland with his Iranian counterpart, Netanyahu branded Iran a global threat.

“That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” he said, placing himself in stark opposition to US President Barack Obama’s policy of containing Iranian ambitions through a diplomatic accord.

“It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them,” he said, dismissing promises from US and European leaders that the planned accord would block Iran’s path to the bomb.

“Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact. Iran’s breakout time would be very short,” he said.

Around 50 Democratic members stayed away from the event, but many more lawmakers from both sides of the aisle did attend, and Netanyahu was welcomed with a warm standing ovation and left to cheers and raucous applause.

“I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political,” he said, acknowledging complaints that he has endangered Israel’s close ties with Washington.

He has also been accused of using the nuclear stand-off as a platform for electioneering, two weeks ahead of Israeli polls that could threaten his ruling coalition.

“That was never my intention,” he protested. “I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel year after year, decade after decade.”

“We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” he said, citing the close security cooperation between the countries.

But, despite his warm opening words, his speech built to a thorough denunciation of Obama’s efforts to strike an accord, citing Iranian leaders’ threats to “annihilate” Israel and “aggression” against their Middle East neighbors.

“So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions. One, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program. Two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade,” he said.

“That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb. It paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Read: Obama says Iran must halt key nuclear work for at least a decade

He cited the strength of Iranian-backed factions in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq as evidence of Tehran’s regional ambitions, and recalled threats against his own people.

Thus, he said, no nuclear deal should weaken economic sanctions against Iran until its government ends its aggressive stance and alleged support for terrorist violence.

“A deal that is supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet,” he warned.

“This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control.

“The Middle East would soon be criss-crossed by nuclear trip wires. A region where small skirmishes trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox,” he said.

“Before lifting these restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things.

“First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the middle east. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.”

And he concluded by hailing the US-Israeli alliance.

“Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand,” Netanyahu said, “but I know that America stands with Israel.

“I know that you stand with Israel. You stand with Israel because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people, but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history.”

Iran dismisses Israel’s objections to nuclear deal

An Iranian vice-president on Tuesday dismissed Israel’s objections to nuclear talks, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not have much influence.

“I don’t think (Netanyahu’s voice) carries much weight,” Massoumeh Ebtekar, who is vice-president for environmental affairs, told AFP during a visit to Paris.

“They are making their efforts to derail the deal but I think the more logical lobbies on both sides are looking forward to a solution.

“The current threats in the region – the radicalism, extremism, terrorism – this all calls for a resolution of the issue and a stronger role for Iran.”

Ebtekar said the main sticking point in the negotiations with world powers was the speed at which sweeping sanctions would be removed.

“It is and it has been from the beginning,” she said.

“These sanctions have been illegal, they are unjust. They are also adversely affecting not only our environment because they are impeding our access to new technologies to curb pollution, but also the global environment.”

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Nikos Retsos
    Mar 3, 2015 - 11:02PM

    Israel is the only state in the world that has pulled the U.S. by the nose for 50 years.
    The joke in the European political circles has been that the “U.S. policy in Middle East has always been designed in Israel, and it is executed in Washington. But it has been worse than that. The U.S. gives Israel about $ 4.5 billions in aid annually. About half of that Israel kicks buck to Jewish political organizations in the US., especially the Israeli Political Action Committee, known with the acronym IPAC, who them passes over to U.S. Senators and Congressmen. The 420 U.S. legislators that support Israel – even against the U.S. interests- is the “inflating factor” of Netanyahu’s current arrogance. Netanyahu just cannot digest that the U.S. -and Obama in this case- dares to defy Israel. Israel has been so spoiled with the U.S. servitude to Israeli interests for 50 years that it cannot now take “No” for an answer.

    A Jewish billionaire, Sheldom Adelson, told a Jewish Conference that the “U.S. should drop a nuclear bomb in an Iranian desert, and then give an ultimatum to Iran:
    Dismantle your nuclear program, or the next nuke will fall in Tehran,” on quote! Netanyahu wants the same thing, but done without a nuke in the Iranian desert first!

    It won’t happen. Formed U.S. president Jimmy Carter disclosed that Israel has 300 nuclear bombs. The testing took place in a South African desert. Netanyahu’s fear is, therefore, that Israel’s “superpower status” in Middle East has been eroding steadily, while Iran’s status as a Middle East superpower has been rising.

    Israel “shot itself in the foot” when it used its clout in Washington to isolate Iran. It helped Iran to develop its own superior military industry. The U.S. should tell him now: You asked for, and we did in Iran what you wanted. The adage “Be careful what you want. You may get it,” happened to Israel. Let Netanyahu “Cry Baby” now in Washington. The U.S. won’t give him the bottle, nor change his diapers! Nikos Retsos, retired professor, USARecommend

  • woody
    Mar 3, 2015 - 11:55PM

    @Nikos Retsos: I

    Israel is the only state in the world
    that has pulled the U.S. by the nose
    for 50 years …

    The mantra that Israel controls the USA is popular – especially among Muslims – but defies logic and conveniently ignores the obvious.
    If Israel controlled the USA then why is the USA negotiating with Iran? Why does the USA sell high tech weapons to the Arabs/Pakistan and give Billions in aid to countries that won’t even recognize Israel? Further – the USA opposed Israels acquisition of nukes, won’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, condemns the settlements, and has kept Israels spy Jonathan Pollard in an American jail since 1987. The list goes on-and-on but no matter how long the list the mantra that Israel controls the USA will remain popular – a testimony that bias beats logic every day.Recommend

  • Scenario
    Mar 3, 2015 - 11:58PM

    I watched it live. Very convincing; but missing reality. Which is, that neither Israel nor Iran are likely to give up their aggressive posture, nor yet their nuclear weapons. Therefore, nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is inexorable. Upshot: This is likely to lead to a nuclear war with consequences of obliterating ancient civilizations, God forbid.Recommend

  • Scenario
    Mar 4, 2015 - 12:10AM

    “If Israel controlled the USA then why is the USA negotiating with Iran?”
    Israel does not control USA but influences it. Obama is trying to limit such Israeli influence that conflicts with the best interests of the United States. The only way not to negotiate with Israel is for the US to start another war in the Middle East. But without trying negotiations, at first, that will be trigger happy. Obama, here, is showing more sophistication than some can fathom.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Mar 4, 2015 - 1:09AM

    Nutteryahoo is the big threat to world peace.Recommend

  • Citizen26
    Mar 4, 2015 - 1:56AM

    Hypocrisy at its best.
    US congressmen invite Netanyahu to give speech, but they have never given such invite to Iran to come forward and put forward their point. Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:14AM

    Dear woody,
    You will have to accept reality one day. Incidentally, why is the US implementing delaying tactics under the pseudonym of so called negotiations, and routinely slapping sanctions on Iran? After all, unlike Israel, Iran is a very peaceful nation.Recommend

  • Ariba
    Mar 4, 2015 - 2:15AM

    same old rant from an Israeli.

    This all was happening until Obama started defying Israeli aggression. Which other country leader in the world is invited in US Congress for speech? this is enough to say how much AIPAC funds the democracts and republicans. Recommend

  • lego
    Mar 4, 2015 - 4:17AM

    @Nikos Retsos:
    Woody has said it well enough.
    Please learn to spell, it’s APIAC not IPAC. That’s the level of your knowledge sadly.
    America and Israel are strong allies with historically strong ties. Muslims just can’t seem to tolerate that. They expect the US to favor them when all of their countries hold toxic levels of anti-Americanism. America has a larger Jewish population than even Israel and it’s natural that the Jewish Diaspora strengthen the ties between countries.
    It is and has always been in the US’s own interest to support Israel. The only democracy in the middle east, American ally, never asked America to send soldiers to defend Israel, strong Jewish population, never celebrated 9/11 attacks etc.. These are facts that cannot.
    America’s the strongest country in the world and strongly supports Israel. This just doesn’t make many people happy. Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Mar 5, 2015 - 4:02AM

    Dear lego,
    I would not normally raise unimportant matters such as spelling, which you did in regard to Nikos Retsos, but in your case you had several grammatical and punctuation errors. I have tried previously to explain the downside of Israel, but ET will not print it. Recommend

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