Democrat Pelosi says Netanyahu's Congress speech 'an insult to the intelligence of the US'

Senior US administration official says prime minister did not offer alternative plan of action in speech.

March 3, 2015 20:55
2 minute read.
Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Senior Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Tuesday as "an insult to the intelligence of the United States," while a senior US official said  that the premier had contradicted himself during the address.

Netanyahu failed to offer an alternative in his speech to the US Congress on the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, a senior US administration official said on Tuesday.

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"Simply demanding that Iran completely capitulate is not a plan, nor would any country support us in that position. The prime minister offered no concrete action plan," the official said.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress

In his speech to Congress, Netanyahu criticized the emerging nuclear deal with Iran, stating that it would all but guarantee that Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

He said that the US had said repeatedly over the past year that 'no deal is better than a bad deal' and the current deal constitutes "a bad deal. A very bad deal."

Netanyahu said that the alternative to the current deal being formed is not war, as some have suggested, but rather, the alternative is a better deal that will not allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state.

The senior US official said that the administration was pursuing a deal that "verifiably prevents" Iran from obtaining a weapon, and increases the breakout time "substantially" to a year from the current estimate of two to three months.

"These negotiations are not an opening to a rapprochement with Iran," the official said.

The official said that the proposed length of the deal - a decade or longer - would be "far longer than any other option."

"Military action would set it back by a fraction of that time, at which point Iran would begin to rebuild its program and try to break out for a weapon," the official said.

The official said Netanyahu contradicted himself by arguing that the Iranian government is both "powerful and unchanging" and "weak and vulnerable" and insisting that it needed to change as a condition for a nuclear deal.

"The logic of the prime minister's speech is regime change, not a nuclear speech," the official said.

Underscoring the partisan divide over Netanyahu's address, House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said afterwards that as a friend of Israel, she was near tears during his speech, calling it "an insult to the intelligence of the United States." She said she was "saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran."

As many as 60 of the 232 members of Congress from Obama's Democratic Party sat out the address to protest what they see as a politicization of Israeli security, an issue on which Congress is usually united.

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