Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel attends a session during the Annual Meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Just four days after returning from India, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Davos on Tuesday for a series of meetings lined up with world leaders that are expected to focus on Iran. He is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump on Thursday.
Netanyahu will be attending the annual World Economic Forum, and deliver a keynote speech there on Thursday.
Among the other leaders he will meet are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Swiss President Alain Berset.
In addition, he is scheduled to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the heads of a number of major international corporations.
Before boarding the plane, Netanyahu said he will tell his interlocutors that in the coming weeks they will have a “last opportunity to try and introduce real – not cosmetic – changes in the dangerous nuclear agreement with Iran.”
In any event, he said, Israel’s policy – with or without an agreement – “is to prevent the terrorist regime in Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, which would endanger us, the Middle East and the entire world.”
Netanyahu has said repeatedly in the last number of days that the Europeans should take very seriously US President Donald Trump’s threats to walk away from the Iranian nuclear deal if it is not fixed.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who left Israel Tuesday at about the same time as Netanyahu, said in a Reuters interview, “At the end of the day, this is going to be a moment where the European community has to decide whether they want to go forward with the United States or whether they want to stay in this deeply flawed deal with Iran.”
In his Knesset speech on Monday, the vice president said the US will “no longer certify this ill-conceived [nuclear ] agreement.” Unless the deal is fixed, he said, Trump will withdraw from it “immediately.”
On January 12, Trump signed a waiver keeping the US nuclear-related sanctions off of Iran, thereby keeping the US in the deal for the time being. But, as Pence made clear, the US has no intention of signing the waiver again, meaning there is just under 120 days left for negotiations with the Europeans of a supplemental deal to impose new terms on the Iranians.
One “hole” in the deal that Netanyahu wants to see plugged is the so-called sunset clauses, which sets expiration dates on the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program if it abides by the deal.
Under one such clause, Iran will be able to increase its centrifuges beyond its current limit of 6,000 in 10 years’ time, and in 15 years it will be able to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium beyond its 300-kg. cap.
Netanyahu has argued that the sunset clauses means that if Iran will abide by the deal now, once those clauses expire, it will have a clear shot toward building a nuclear arsenal.