Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called the Iran deal regarding its nuclear program a “historic mistake,” and admonished the world in remarks that were broadcast from the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu expressed little faith in the deal’s ability to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb, saying it only slows a nuclear program that will still be capable of producing a bomb.
Speaking to his Cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement has endangered Israel, who he declared will not be bound by the Iran deal and reserves the right to defend itself without permission or assistance.
“As prime minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability,” Netanyahu said.
“What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” Netanyahu added. “Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world.”
Netanyahu said the Iran deal foolishly gives sanction relief “in exchange for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be canceled in weeks.” It is a sentiment echoed throughout the Israeli government.
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An official in the Prime Minister’s office said the agreement “gives Iran exactly what it wants: a significant easing of sanctions and allows Iran to keep the most significant parts of its nuclear program. The agreement allows Iran to continue enriching uranium and leaves it the centrifuges that enables it create (fissile) material to create nuclear weapons. Likewise, the agreement doesn’t lead to dismantling the Arak reactor. The economic pressure on Iran would have led to a much better agreement that would have dismantled Iran’s nuclear capability.”
“We’re worried about the agreement but our job is to keep up the warnings,” said Yair Lapid, Israel’s Minister of Finance and part of Netanyahu’s coalition government. “We’re not comfortable but this warning needs to be done. We have six months until there is (hopefully) a better agreement.”
Yair Lapid repeated Israel’s right to self-defense stating, “I want to clarify that Israel will not let Iran develop nuclear military capability. We may be the only child in the room saying the king has no clothes but that’s what we must do.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman, told Israel Radio that “Israel will have to make a reassessment,” while acknowledging “all the options are on the table.”
“We are talking about the greatest diplomatic achievement for the Iranians,” Lieberman said. “We have to take our decision in a clear-eyed, independent manner, and we have to be serious enough to be responsible for our fate. Responsibility for the fate of the Jewish people and for the state of Israel lies with the Israeli government alone.”
The Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Intelligence and International Relations Yuval Steinitz, liken the Iran deal with the ill-conceived agreement between the world and North Korea, stating “like the failed agreement with North Korea, this agreement is likely to bring Iran closer to obtaining the bomb.”
“Israel cannot take part in the international celebration which is based on Iranian duplicity and self-deception,” Steinitz said.
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Nafatali Bennett, the Minister of Economy and Commerce, said on Army Radio that world powers could have used the talks in Geneva that led to the deal to force Iran to give up its nuclear program rather than freeze it at a point where it can resume work at any time.
“Iran was on the mat because of the sanctions, but then the West picked it up and gave it something to drink. Israel does not have to be a party to this agreement and has the right to defend its security,” he said, alluding to possible military action. “The whole Middle East is affected but the danger to Israel is unique.”
“If five years from now a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning,” Minister Naftali Bennett said.
In several Facebook posts no less, Israelis compared the Iran deal to the one made by former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who naively hatched the agreement with Nazi Germany in 1938, which did not prevent a world war and allowed the Nazi war machine to build to almost invincible proportions.
Josh Hasten, who hosts a political radio show, told USA TODAY that, “There is no doubt that the leaders in Iran are smiling this morning as they have been given a pass by the world community to maintain the option of building a nuclear weapon.”
He characterized the deal as an appeasement that will leave the entire world and not just Israel at risk of a nuclear Iran.
“It’s truly a major step in the wrong direction,” he said.