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Netanyahu: Iran Nuclear Deal Threatens Israel's Existence

  • Scott Bobb

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media in Jerusalem, April 1, 2015.

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media in Jerusalem, April 1, 2015.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says any final nuclear agreement with Iran must include a "clear and unambiguous Iranian commitment of Israel's right to exist."

He spoke Friday after an emergency meeting of his Security Cabinet, which he said was "united" in its opposition to the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program that was announced Thursday night.

"Now, some say the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's not true. There is a third alternative," Netanyahu said. " Standing firm, increasing the pressure on Iran until a good deal is acheived."

The Israeli leader said the framework agreement on Iran's nuclear program "would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the state of Israel."

The agreement, reached after eight days of intense negotiations between Iran and six world powers, sets the guidelines for a final accord by the end of June.

It calls for easing international sanctions against Iran as Tehran reduces its uranium enrichment program, which, it is feared, is being used to develop nuclear weapons.

An analyst with Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, Ephraim Kam, said the agreement has some positive aspects but these are far outweighed by the negatives.

"The Iranian nuclear program stopped for some time and in a sense it was pushed backwards. On the other hand there are many holes in this agreement which should be a matter of concern to almost everybody," he said.

Facilities could be reactivated

Critics say the agreement allows Iran to maintain all of its nuclear facilities, which it could quickly reactivate if it so chooses.

They say the agreement also does not address Iran's reported program to weaponize its enriched uranium and develop missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons thousands of kilometers away.

Professor Ely Karmon of Israel's Inter-Disciplinary Center says the agreement legalizes Iran's nuclear program and does not address its involvement in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

"Under this kind of legitimacy and potential nuclear umbrella Iran continues and probably will enhance its aggressive attempt of hegemony [to expand] presence in the region. So clearly the Israeli leaders are very worried for the future," he said.

Israeli leaders have said they reserve the right to respond unilaterally to any Iranian nuclear threat, including bombing Iranian nuclear facilities.

Analyst Karmon, however, believes the military option is no longer likely.

"The political decision in this scenario, when there is an agreement sponsored by all the big powers in the world, it will make the military option very difficult," he said.

Few options

Kam agrees, saying this leaves Israel with very few courses of action.

"So what is left is diplomatic efforts using the American Congress and some other friends who might be willing to cooperate. Not very promising options, I would say, at the moment," he said.

Karmon notes that the Iranians may wish to avoid expanding their nuclear capabilities at this time because of a rising confrontation between its allies and a Saudi-led military coalition in Syria, Iraq and Yemen among other countries.

"The Iranians must be very cautious not to provoke the Saudis and even the Egyptian and the Turks who are supporting the Saudis in their fight against the Iranian proxies," he said.

Nevertheless, analysts say even tougher negotiations lie ahead as Iran and world powers try to turn the framework agreement into a joint plan of action in the next three months.

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