News / Middle East

Israel Urges Tough Line on Iran Nuclear Deal

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday pressed world powers to take a hard line with Iran in negotiations for a final nuclear deal, urging them to demand that Tehran abandon all uranium enrichment, halt its ballistic missile program and end a “genocidal” anti-Israel policy.

One day after President Barack Obama deemed it unrealistic to believe Iran could be compelled to dismantle its entire nuclear infrastructure, Netanyahu said Tehran should have to take apart all centrifuges used to refine uranium, despite its insistence it would never agree to do so.

Netanyahu, deeply skeptical over an interim six-month deal reached with Iran in Geneva in late November, also suggested that the imposition of new sanctions could help the West secure a “better deal” in the next round of negotiations. Obama has urged Congress against further punitive measures for now.

While delivering a pointed rebuttal to some of Obama's arguments on Iran, Netanyahu took pains to avoid any new diplomatic clash with the U.S. president. He instead played down their differences and lauded the recently strained U.S.-Israeli bond as the “indispensable alliance.”

’Beware’

But with the hawkish Israeli prime minister urging the international community to “beware” of Iran's intentions, he made clear that Israel and the United States are hardly on the same page.

”The world must not allow Iran to be a threshold nuclear weapons state, with the option to cross that threshold at a time of its choosing,” Netanyahu told a foreign policy forum in Washington, speaking via satellite link from Jerusalem.

While the United States wants talks limited to Iran's nuclear program, Netanyahu urged a broader approach, calling on world powers to demand suspension of Iranian missile development - which Israel sees as a security threat - and an end to Tehran's weapons supplies to anti-Israel militants.

Addressing the same forum on Saturday, Obama defended diplomacy with Iran but sought to reassure Israelis with a pledge to step up sanctions or prepare for a potential military strike if Tehran fails to abide by the pact.

He argued, however, it was unreasonable to envision a deal in which “we'll destroy every element and facility” and argued instead that world powers could accept a “modest” Iranian civil nuclear program subject to intensive international monitoring.

But Netanyahu made clear that Israel considers any Iranian enrichment capacity to have military potential - despite Tehran's denial that it seeks a nuclear bomb.

In his speech, Netanyahu spoke only briefly of the need to “take apart all the centrifuges” that Iran operates. But later, in a joint appearance with the visiting Dutch prime minister near Tel Aviv, he stressed the point.

I called today for the dismantling of all centrifuges,” he told reporters. “All centrifuges means that there's no enrichment ... and therefore we think that that should be part and parcel of a deal.”

Netanyahu stopped short of repeating his denunciation of the Geneva deal as a “historic mistake,” widely interpreted as a swipe at Obama, with whom he has had testy relations.

Instead, Netanyahu appears to have set his sights on trying to ensure that world powers squeeze maximum concessions from Iran as they try to craft a comprehensive settlement.

New twist

Adding a new twist to his pressure campaign, Netanyahu told a largely pro-Israel audience in Washington that Iran was “committed to our destruction” and that any final deal must “include a demand to change its genocidal policy.”

He accused Iran of supplying rockets to anti-Israel Islamist groups Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and also cited a recent comment by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling Israel the “rabid dog” of the Middle East.

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, has steered clear of the Holocaust-denial rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in reaching out to the West. Rouhani has also pledged Iran will never seek a nuclear bomb.

Relations between Israel and the United States, traditionally the closest of allies, have been strained by the preliminary agreement, which was designed to halt advances in Iran's nuclear program and buy time for further negotiations.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum, Netanyahu said a diplomatic solution is preferable but that a credible military threat and tough sanctions are vital to make that possible. And he called for steps to prevent further erosion of existing sanctions.

There is concern within the Obama administration that Netanyahu's criticism of the Geneva deal could add impetus to calls by pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers for new sanctions.

U.S. officials have appealed to Congress not to push for new punitive measures during negotiations, saying it could alienate Iran and other countries involved in the talks.

Israel's opposition to the deal has raised speculation that it might carry out long-threatened strikes against Iran. Netanyahu reiterated his vow that Israel must have the ability to “defend itself by itself,” but he issued no direct threats.

While Israel is widely assumed to have the region's only nuclear arsenal, many independent analysts believe it lacks the conventional clout to cause lasting damage to Iran's nuclear facilities. The Israelis are also unlikely to go it alone as their most important foreign partner is engaged in diplomacy.

Israeli-Palestinian talks

Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would be the greatest threat to a potential Middle East peace accord.

He did not echo the hopeful outlook for U.S.-brokered talks that Obama - who has made the issue a top foreign policy priority - painted a day earlier - and said that any agreement that might emerge would initially result in a “cold peace.”

While putting the onus on the Palestinians, Netanyahu reiterated he was ready for “historic compromise” but offered nothing new. Palestinians say the negotiations have been hampered by Israeli settlement building on occupied West Bank land they want for a state.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid