Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned the six world powers negotiating a deal with Tehran not to rush into an agreement that would give Iran a nuclear bomb.
“There are reports that the P5+1 countries are close to a deal with Iran on Iran’s nuclear program,” Netanyahu said.
“I call on the P5+1 countries – don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb,” Netanyahu said in an English message that he posted on YouTube.
He also sent a letter to that effect to the foreign ministers of the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.
“In that letter I bring, verbatim, the words of Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khamenei,” Netanyau said. He explained that in the last 48 hours Khamenei called for the annihilation of Israel
“He gives nine ways and reasons of how and why Israel should be annihilated – his words, not mine. He’s publicly calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” said Netanyahu.
“There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed,” the prime minister said.
Iran supports global terrorism and has deceived the world with respect to its nuclear program, he charged.
“This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power,” Netanyahu said.
Among the items referenced in Netanyahu’s letter was a tweet sent out by an account associated with Khamenei. “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated,” it said.
On Monday in Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We condemn the hateful remarks.”
The remarks were “offensive and reprehensible, and the entire international community should condemn such rhetoric,” she said.
With respect to Netanyahu’s concerns about a bad deal with Iran, she said that the US had kept Israel apprised of the process.
“We feel that their view and their voice is important,” Psaki said, adding that “there is no question that Israel will be safer if Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Netanyahu spoke as Iran, the US and the EU labored through a second day of talks on Monday over disagreements that thus far have prevented them from reaching an agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
With two weeks to the November 24 deadline for an overall agreement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry and former EU envoy Catherine Ashton met in Oman to tackle the decade-long dispute.
Kerry and Zarif were cautious as they began a session of the closed-door talks at a luxury hotel. Asked whether the negotiating teams were making progress, Kerry merely replied: “We are working hard. We are working hard,” while Zarif responded, “We will eventually.”
The discussions aim to put verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment work – and any other potential path to a nuclear weapon – in return for a gradual lifting of sanctions.
US President Barack Obama said in a CBS television interview on Sunday there was still a big gap between Iran and Western powers, and said a deal could be out of reach.
Economic sanctions led by the United States have pushed Iran to the table for a deal on its nuclear program, Obama said.
A final step would involve Iran providing “verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can’t develop a nuclear weapon”, he said.
“There’s still a big gap. We may not be able to get there.”
Western countries suspect Iran has secretly attempted to acquire the means to build nuclear weapons.
Iran says it only wants peaceful nuclear energy, but has refused to curb enrichment capacity and has been hit by damaging US, EU and UN Security Council sanctions.
An editorial on Khamenei’s website on Sunday made an indirect reference to a letter to him from Obama, and said the US president had written three such missives – in 2009, 2012 and “about a month ago.”
“In fact, the US has always reached out to Iran when faced with an impasse and Obama’s latest letter is a direct link to foreign policy dead-ends, especially those involving Iran somehow,” it said.
Obama declined to comment on this during the CBS interview.
The toughest issues in the negotiations are the size of Iran’s enrichment program, the length of any final accord, and the pace at which sanctions would be phased out, diplomats say.