Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama presented two starkly opposing views of the future following the announcement Tuesday of a nuclear deal with Iran, with Netanyahu saying the world is a more dangerous place, and Obama saying it is safer.
"The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday,” Netanyahu said to reporters before convening an emergency meeting of his security cabinet to discuss the deal.
His comments came just a couple hours after Obama said that the deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon
and “makes our country and the world safer and more secure.”
But Netanyahu strongly disagreed. “The leading international powers have bet our collective future on a deal with the foremost sponsor of international terrorism,” he said. “They've gambled that in ten years' time, Iran's terrorist regime will change while removing any incentive for it to do so. In fact, the deal gives Iran every incentive not to change.”
What does the Iran nuclear deal mean for Israel?
Netanyahu’s comments were aimed more at the destabilizing impact an Iran flush with “hundreds of billions of dollars” in cash following the lifting of sanctions, than at the prospect of a nuclear threat from Tehran.
“In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran's terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing,” he said. “Amazingly, this bad deal does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way. And just last Friday, that aggression was on display for all to see.”
Netanyahu underlined that even as negotiators were hammering out the deal, “Iran's supposedly moderate President chose to go to a rally in Tehran and at this rally, a frenzied mob burned American and Israeli flags and chanted 'Death to America, Death to Israel!'
This didn't happen four years ago, Netanyahu stressed, “It happened four days ago.”
Netanyahu noted that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in March that the deal does not limit Iran's aggression in any way, and that “negotiations with the United States are on the nuclear issue and on nothing else.”
Khamenei repeated that sentiment three days ago, Netanyahu said, quoting Khamenei as saying that “the United States embodies global arrogance, and the battle against it will continue unabated even after the nuclear agreement is concluded.”
To further illustrate the likely destabilizing impact of the accord, the prime minister quoted Hassan Nasrallah, the head of “Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah,” as saying that “a rich and strong Iran will be able to stand by its allies and friends in the region more than at any time in the past.”
In other words, he said, “ Iran's support for terrorism and subversion will actually increase after the deal.”
Calling the deal a “stunning historic mistake,” Netanyahu said that Iranian Presdent Hassan Rouhani was correct in saying that with the deal “the international community is removing the sanctions and Iran is keeping its nuclear program.'
“By not dismantling Iran's nuclear program, in a decade this deal will give an unreformed, unrepentant and far richer terrorist regime the capacity to produce many nuclear bombs, in fact an entire nuclear arsenal with the means to deliver it,” he said.
He then warned that “Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction. We will always defend ourselves.”
Later on Tuesday Netanyahu spoke with Obama and again expressed what Israel's main worries were over the deal.
Netanyahu said that in the conversation he told Obama that the deal was dangerous for two central reasons.
First, Netanyahu said, the deal allows Iran to obtain nuclear weapons if it abides by the deal and waits 10-15 years, or if it breaches the deal before that period expires.
Second, it will allow hundreds of billions of dollars to flow to what Netanyahu called Iran's "terror and war machine that threatens Israel and the entire world."
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