Netanyahu on new Iran deal: Nuclear agreement is worthless

"With or without an agreement, we will do everything so Iran isn’t armed with nuclear weapons.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the memorial service for the 1920 Battle of Tel Hai, February 23, 2021.  (photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the memorial service for the 1920 Battle of Tel Hai, February 23, 2021.
(photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Israel will not rely on efforts to return to a nuclear deal with Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.
“Israel isn’t pinning its hopes on an agreement with an extremist regime like [Iran],” he said at a memorial service for the 1920 Battle of Tel Hai. “We already saw what these agreements are worth... with North Korea.”
“With or without an agreement, we will do everything so [Iran isn’t] armed with nuclear weapons,” he added.
Referring to the story of Purim, which begins on Thursday night, Netanyahu said: “2,500 years ago, a Persian oppressor tried to destroy the Jewish people, and just as he failed then, you will fail today… We didn’t make a journey of thousands of years to return to the Land of Israel to allow the delusional ayatollahs’ regime to finish the story of the rebirth of the Jewish People.”
On Monday, Netanyahu met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan and others to discuss Israel’s strategy and response to the Biden administration’s attempted rapprochement with Iran.
The US is seeking to start a dialogue with Iran and move toward a return to the 2015 Iran deal, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said in a statement with the European countries that were party to the deal. Officials in Washington have called on Iran to return to compliance with the deal before the US would remove sanctions.
Officials in the meeting were split on whether Israel should advocate for the US to stay out of the Iran deal until it can get a better, more-secure agreement, or be more supportive of what US President Joe Biden’s stated plan is, to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the 2015 Iran deal is officially called, and then negotiate tougher terms.
Netanyahu reportedly took the first, harder line, while Gantz and Ashkenazi supported a less-confrontational approach.
As indicated by Netanyahu’s remarks, open opposition to a return to the JCPOA is still on the table.
Rejoining “the old nuclear deal of 2015 that paves Iran’s path to an arsenal of nuclear bombs will be a mistake,” Erdan told KAN Reshet Bet on Tuesday.
If the US returns to the JCPOA by lifting sanctions, it won’t have any leverage to convince Iran to reopen negotiations for a stricter deal, he said.
Nevertheless, “a diplomatic solution is always preferable to a military solution,” Erdan said, adding that “the question is whether there will be an agreement that blocks any way Iran can get a nuclear weapon.”
The officials at Monday’s meeting agreed Israel should continue its ongoing dialogue with the Biden administration rather than opt for open confrontation, as it did in former US president Barack Obama’s second term.
Erdan emphasized the importance of dialogue during his interview with KAN Reshet Bet.
“The new [US] administration has shown a very honest and deep will to hold organized consultations [with Israel], led by [US National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan,” he said. “Israel is in a process of full dialogue [with the Biden administration], and they are listening to our stance – the American government and also central countries in Europe.”
Also Tuesday, the European parties to the JCPOA, known as the E3, said Iran’s decision to block snap inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency was dangerous and a violation of the Iran deal.
The foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK said they “deeply regret” that Iran suspended what is known as the Additional Protocol of the JCPOA.
“Iran’s actions are a further violation of its commitments under the JCPOA and significantly reduces safeguards oversight by the IAEA,” they said. “The E3 are united in underlining the dangerous nature of this decision.”
The foreign ministers said stopping snap inspections would limit IAEA access to nuclear sites and its ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear program and related activities.
“We urge Iran to stop and reverse all measures that reduce transparency and to ensure full and timely cooperation with the IAEA,” they said.
The foreign ministers said they seek to preserve the JCPOA and negotiate for Iran and the US to return to it.
The JCPOA’s additional protocol said the IAEA could hold short-term inspections in locations that Iran had not declared as nuclear sites.
Iran announced it would stop the inspections on Tuesday, going back on a prior agreement to extend them for three more months. The move was a response to the US not lifting sanctions on the regime.
Israel views the E3 as more open to the Israeli position than in the past due to Iran’s repeated violations of the deal’s limitations, KAN reported.
In recent weeks, Iran announced it would enrich uranium up to 20% and produce uranium metal, which the E3 said has no credible civilian use.
Israel has increased pressure on the E3 to try to talk them out of rejoining the old Iran deal, with many more discussions about Iran than usual, KAN reported.