Netanyahu continues slamming Iran deal in meeting with US secretary of defense

PM also meets with visiting Italian counterpart, says nuclear accord endangers Israel, the Middle East and eventually Europe.

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July 21, 2015 19:40
3 minute read.

Netanyahu: Israel and Europe are threatened by the same forces

Netanyahu: Israel and Europe are threatened by the same forces

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his case against the Iran nuclear deal to visiting US Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday, telling him it poses a grave threat to Israel, the region and the world.

Netanyahu, during a photo opportunity later in the day with visiting Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, said he told Carter that the deal “will put Iran at the threshold of an entire nuclear arsenal in a decade or so.”

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At that time, Netanyahu said, “The deal permits Iran to build as many centrifuges as it wants, to enrich uranium as much as it wants. It could break out to dozens of nuclear weapons in zero time.”

The two men met for two hours on the last day of Carter’s visit here as part of a regional tour that is to take him to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, in an effort to assure jittery US allies about the recently announced Iran nuclear deal. Israeli officials termed the discussion “serious” and “substantive.”
PM Netanyahu meets US Defense Minister Ash Carter

The Israeli officials said that the issue of ways to “compensate” Israel for the deal – either through enhanced weaponry or an upgraded strategic alliance – “did not come up at all.”

Though some senior Israeli defense officials would like Israel to engage in talks with Washington over a security package that would ensure that Israel retain its qualitative military edge in the region, Netanyahu has made clear that he does not believe this is the time to hold those discussions, asking in one interview earlier this week how Israel could possibly be compensated for a nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu and Carter made no statements either before or after the meeting, at the request of the Americans.



Last week statements at a photo opportunity with Netanyahu and visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond turned into a rare mini-debate between the two men over the Iranian issue, and the Americans were apparently eager to avoid anything similar.

The prime minister said he told Carter the deal will also give the Iranians hundreds of billions of dollars “to bankroll its aggression in the region, and its terrorism around the world.”

“That’s more money for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, for the Quds Force, for Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, for terrorists in Libya, for Shi’a militia in Iran, for the Houthis in Yemen,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is to be traveling soon to the Persian Gulf states to try and ease their concerns about the deal, related to this argument in an interview in the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya.

Presented with the argument that Iran will be flush with cash to fund their subversive activities, Kerry said, “Let me ask you a simple question: Who has more cash? Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and Qatar, or Iran?” Maybe those countries, he said, “need to become more proactive in pushing back against activities so people understand they don’t have a free playing field on which to deal.”

Kerry said that while Iran’s military budget is $15 billion a year, that of the Gulf State’s is $130b.

“We think things can be done far more effectively to push back against proxy activities.”

The secretary of state said the military and intelligence assessments in Washington are that if the Arab states “organize themselves correctly,” they “have an untapped potential that is very, very significant to be able to push back against” Iran’s subversive activities.

Asked about Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s recent comments that his country’s confrontation with the US will continue, and that Tehran’s policies will not change, Kerry replied that while those comments need to be taken at face value, “often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different.”

US President Barack Obama – speaking to a veterans convention in Pittsburgh – derided those criticizing the deal as similar to those who “were so quick to go to war” in Iraq, and said “there is a lot of shaky information out there.”

Obama also that in the debate over this deal, “we hear echoes of some of the same policies and mindsets that failed us in the past, and the politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic [solution to] Iran’s nuclear program are the same folks that were so quick to go to war in Iraq, and said it would take a few months. We know the consequences of that choice, and what it cost us in blood and treasure.”

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