With the world powers and Iran unlikely to conclude a nuclear deal by the midnight deadline Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there is now an opportunity to continue and toughen economic pressure against Tehran.
Netanyahu's comments came during a BBC interview in which he said the current stalemate in the talks is a “lot better” than the deal that he said Iran was pushing for. That deal, which he described not as a “bad deal,” but rather a “horrible deal,” would have “left Iran with the ability to enrich uranium to an atom bomb while removing sanctions."
The deal that the world should be pushing for, he added, was to “dismantle Iran's capacity to make atomic bombs, and then only to dismantle the sanctions.”
Netanyahu dismissed Iran's oft-heard argument that it has the “natural right” to enrich uranium, saying “there is no right to enrich. What do you need to enrich uranium for if you are not developing an atomic bomb?”
Netanyahu said Iran's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles is a clear sign that it is seeking nuclear weapons. The only reason you build ICBMs is to launch a nuclear warhead. So Iran, I think everyone understands, is unabashedly seeking to develop atomic bombs. And I think they shouldn't have the capacity either to enrich uranium or to deliver nuclear warheads. And I think that is the position the P5+1 should take.”
Netanyahu said one of the justifications for not taking that position was that to do so would “offend Iranian pride.”
“So what,” he said. “If this position was taken in the 1930s against Germany, it would have offended German pride, but saved millions and millions of lives.”
Netanyahu said the world must not give atomic bombs to “this medievalist regime in Iran that throws acid in the faces of women, that oppresses gays, that subjugates entire populations, that exports terrorism far and wide.”
Netanyahu said now since an agreement was not reached, he hoped the pressure on Tehran would continue.
“The fact that there is no deal now means there is an opportunity to continue the economic pressure that has proven the only thing that has brought Iran to the table,” he said.
Advocating continuing and toughening the economic sanctions, Netanyahu said, “I think that is road that has to be taken. But of course Israel is watching very carefully what is happening here, and Israel always, always, reserves the right to defend itself.”