Netanyahu slams proposed deal with Iran in harshest words to date

PM tells Kerry Israel is not bound to Western deal with Tehran.

Netanyahu talking about Iran 370 (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Netanyahu talking about Iran 370
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
The deal being worked out between the world powers and Iran is a very bad deal that Israel is not obliged by, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.
The two met just prior to Kerry flying to Geneva to take part in negotiations of a deal in the works that would have the international community relieve sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran freezing its nuclear activity for six months.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle were also asked to arrive at the Swiss city, making the signing of the deal on Friday all the more probable.
"I reminded him of his own words, that it is better not to reach a deal then to reach a bad deal," Netanyahu said after the meeting. "The proposal being discussed now is a bad deal, a very bad deal. Iran is not asked to dismantle even one centrifuge, but the international community is easing sanctions on Iran for the first time in many years."
According to Netanyahu Iran is getting everything it wants at this stage, and not giving anything in return, and this at a time when Iran is under intense pressure.
"I call on Secretary Kerry not to be in a hurry to sign, to wait and reconsider," Netanyahu said. Repeating comments he said Thursday night, Netanyahu called this the "deal of the century" for Iran, but a bad and dangerous deal for the world.
Before meeting Kerry, Netanyahu said that he understands that the Iranians are "walking around very satisfied in Geneva, as well they should be, because they got everything, and paid nothing."
"They wanted relief from sanctions after years of a grueling sanctions regime. They got that. They are paying nothing because they are not reducing in any way their nuclear enrichment capability," he said.
Netanyahu, in his harshest comments to date on the matter, said Israel "utterly rejects" the deal, "and what I am saying is shared by many, many in the region whether or not they express it publicly. Israel is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it needs to defend itself, to defend the security of its people."
A senior State Department official said on Friday morning that Kerry was committed to doing "anything he can" to narrow differences with Iran over its nuclear program.
"This is a complex process. As a member of the P5+1, he is committed to doing anything he can [to] help narrow these differences," the official said.
"First step agreement"
The Islamic Republic and the Western allies were working on a draft agreement during talks in Geneva that started on Thursday, ahead of a likely announcement, The Wall Street Journal cited Iranian and Western sources as saying.
Negotiators in Geneva cautioned, however, that work remained to be done in the coming hours in very complex negotiations and that a successful outcome was not guaranteed. Iran rejects Western accusations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons.
According to the proposed short-term deal, Iran would freeze its nuclear activities for the next six months, allowing for more time to reach a permanent agreement.
The Guardian reported that the "first-step agreement" is understood to include four key points:
* Iran would stop weapons-grade 20 percent uranium enrichment and turn its existing stockpile into oxide, a harmless material.
* Iran would be allowed to continue 3.5% enrichment needed for power stations, but limit the number of centrifuges being used. The deal would, however, not include any demand to remove or disable any other centrifuges.
* While still being allowed to work on its plutonium reactor at Arak, Iran would agree not to activate it for the durations of the six months. The plutonium reactor could provide for another route to nuclear weapon capability.
* Iran would not use its IR-2 centrifuges that are more advanced and capable of enriching uranium three-to-five times faster than the older model.
In exchange for these steps, the US would agree to ease some "reversible" economic sanctions, the Guardian reported, possibly by releasing some Iranian funds frozen in overseas accounts. In addition, the US could possibly relax restrictions on Iran's petrochemical, motor and precious metals industries.
US President Barack Obama told NBC News on Thursday that while the United States was willing to provide Tehran with "very modest [sanctions] relief," the sanctions architecture would be kept in place.
Sanctions could be tightened if Iran failed to follow through on commitments, he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.