Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his arguments against the Iran nuclear deal to the US public on Sunday, giving interviews on three Sunday morning news shows and saying he was not against any deal with Iran, just a “bad deal.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Netanyahu said he was trying to “kill a bad deal.”
To those calling it a “historic deal,” Netanyahu retorted, it “could be a historically bad deal.”
This, he added, is “because it leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure, not one centrifuge destroyed.
Netanyhau: "This deal is a dream deal for Iran and a nightmare for the world"
Thousands of centrifuges would be left spinning uranium, and not a single facility – including an underground nuclear facility – is being shut down.”
The deal will leave Iran with a capacity to produce material for many nuclear bombs, and “does so by lifting the sanctions pretty much up front,” Netanyahu said.
“The billions of dollars Iran will have flowing through its coffers will not be for schools, hospitals or roads, but to pump its worldwide terror machine and military machine that is busy conquering the Middle East as we speak,” he added.
The “preeminent terrorist state of our time should not have access to the vast nuclear capability that will ultimately give them nuclear weapons,” the prime minister charged.
Asked whether he doesn’t feel isolated, given that the US, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia are all in favor of the deal, he recalled that the entire world celebrated the nuclear deal with North Korea in 1994.
“It was deemed to be great breakthrough,” he said, “with inspectors that would do the job. And everyone applauded it. But it turned out to be a very, very bad deal.”
The prime minister said he feared that the same thing would be true of Iran, “except Iran is a great deal more dangerous than North Korea. It is a militant Islamic power bent on regional and world domination.”
Asked if Israel still had a military option, Netanyahu demurred, saying that he “is the only Israeli left standing that never talks about our military option.”
He said it was obvious Jerusalem preferred a diplomatic option, because in any military action Israel would be the country to pay the biggest price.Netanyahu: I respect President Obama
“We want a diplomatic solution, but a good one, one that rolls back Iran’s infrastructure and ties the final lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program with a change in Iran’s behavior,” he said.
One of the “tragic” results of the deal is that – if it goes through – it would “spark a nuclear arms race among the Sunni states in the region,” Netanyahu said.
A “Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear tripwires is a nightmare for the world,” he added.
US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) who has supported a negotiated deal with Iran, urged Netanyahu to stop his public campaign against it Sunday in a CNN interview on State of the Union.
“I do not think it’s helpful for Israel to come out and oppose this one opportunity to change a major dynamic, which is a downhill dynamic in this part of the world,” she said.
This deal does not threaten Israel’s survival, said Feinstein, who is vice chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I think [Netanyahu] said what he has had to say, and to be candid with you, this can backfire on him. I wish he would contain himself, because he has put out no real alternative in his speech to the Congress [and] no real alternative since then,” Feinstein said.
She added that more sanctions would be harmful, not helpful, because they would drive Iran’s nuclear program underground and make it more difficult to monitor.
There are 77 million people in Iran, and they do not deserve to have their economy destroyed, she said.
“Sanctions generally hurt those who cannot afford a better way of life, they are not a long-term answer,” Feinstein said.
What has been worked out so far between Iran and the six world powers was just a framework for the deal, Feinstein said, and added that changes could be made before a final document was agreed upon.
“This agreement has to be written up into a binding agreement, and that is the document we all need to see, the final document,” she said.
The terms that have been worked out so far, she said, provide for surveillance, inspection and transparency in Iran’s nuclear program for 20 to 25 years.
“I believe, I think, we are on the cusp of something that can be workable,” she told CNN.
Should the negotiated deal fall apart, she warned, the only solution left would be a military one.
Netanyahu granted interviews to ABC and CNN, and on the latter network argued that the crippling sanctions imposed in 2012 were what brought Iran “immediately” to the table.
“If they worked to get them to the table, why, when you get to the table, do you start lifting them immediately? In fact, apply those pressures because they do work. That is what’s required,” he said.
Asked to what degree he was coordinating strategy on this issue with the Republican leadership, given that House Speaker John Boehner was in the country last week, Netanyahu denied that he was approaching the issue “on a partisan basis.”
“I’ve talked to about twothirds of the representatives of the United States House of Representatives and probably an equal number of senators, from both sides of the aisle,” he said. “This is not a partisan issue. This is not even solely an Israeli issue. This is a world issue, because everyone is going to be threatened by the preeminent terrorist state of our time.”
Netanyahu was asked whether he trusted President Barack Obama, and replied that he trusts that the president was doing what he thought was good for the US.
“I think that we can have a legitimate difference of opinion on this, because I think Iran has shown to be completely distrustful,” he said.
The prime minister added that this was not “a personal issue” between him and Obama, whom he said he respected, and with whom he has a “mutually respectful” relationship.
He asserted that this was “a difference in policy, not a clash of personalities.”