Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
(photo credit: AMIT SHABAY/POOL)
The more one studies the Iranian nuclear agreement, the worse it looks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
“The more you know about the accord, the more you oppose it,” he said during a briefing with diplomatic reporters in which he passionately argued against the agreement.
Opposition to the agreement was growing in the US as well, as more questions were being asked about its details, he said, adding that the highest level of support for the deal was registered on the day it was signed, and that it has declined steadily ever since.
Netanyahu said that it was clear the accord paved two paths for Iran to a bomb. The first is if Iran abided by the agreement, and in 10 to 15 years would be able – without any breakout time at all – to build dozens of bombs.
This, he said, “will change the world.”
“Iran will be able to manufacture an unlimited number of centrifuges and will be able to enrich an unlimited amount of uranium,” he said.
“At the end of the decade their breakout time will be near zero, just a matter of days.”
The other path toward a bomb is if it violates the pact and will be able to build one or two bombs within a decade.
In addition to those two “problems” with the agreement, Netanyahu stressed that the lifting of sanctions will fill Iran’s coffers with money that will then be sent to proxies fighting Israel.
“They are trying to move weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, open a second front against us on the Golan, rehabilitate Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and start a front in Jordan.
And the declared intent is to harm us,” he said.
In addition, Netanyahu said, the Iranians can develop and manufacture advanced weaponry at home: satellites, precision missiles and submarines.
The prime minister decried the inspection and supervisory regime set up under the accord, saying it will give the Iranians fully three months – not just 24 days – before supervisors will be able to inspect undeclared nuclear facilities.
Israel did not receive the agreement’s secret annexes, he added.
Netanyahu defended his decision to continue speaking out and railing against the deal.
“We have identified an existential threat to Israel, so what should we do, just give into it?” he asked.
“Without our efforts, Iran would already have had a nuclear weapon. This agreement is terrible, it would have been preferable had there been no agreement rather than this one,” he said, adding that most Sunni countries have made clear their opposition – and even outrage – at the deal.
The prime minister stepped away from the briefing for about 30 minutes to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Netanyahu said the call dealt with Iran, regional issues and bilateral ties. A statement put out by his office later said he told Putin about Iran’s two paths to a bomb, as well as the billions of dollars it will have for its terrorist activities in the region and the world.
The Kremlin also put out a readout of the call, saying it was initiated by Netanyahu, and that the two leaders had a “comprehensive discussion on the situation in the Middle East.”
According to the Kremlin, Putin said that the nuclear agreement “envisage[s] reliable guarantees of the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.” He expressed confidence that the deal would “strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime and “have a positive impact on security and stability in the Middle East.”
The Russian president stressed the “need for joint efforts by all parties concerned to combat the threats from the Islamic State terrorist group.”