JERUSALEM Israel’s prime minister harshly condemned the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran on Sunday, calling it a “historic mistake” and saying he was not bound by the agreement.
Speaking to his Cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the world had become a “more dangerous place” as a result of the deal and reiterated a long-standing threat to use military action against Iran if needed, declaring that Israel “has the right and the duty to defend itself by itself.”
Israel believes Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s agreement, Netanyahu had warned the emerging deal was insufficient.
He had called for increased pressure on Iran, and warned that any relief from economic sanctions would make Iran less willing to compromise during a coming, six-month period aimed at reaching a final agreement.
Netanyahu told his Cabinet that Sunday’s deal gave Iran much-needed relief from the sanctions, but left most of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact. In particular, he cited Iran’s continued ability to enrich uranium, a key step in making a nuclear bomb.
“What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said. “Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world.”
Voicing what he called Israel’s right to self-defense, he said, “I want to clarify that Israel will not let Iran develop nuclear military capability.”
Earlier, Netanyahu’s Cabinet minister for intelligence issues, Yuval Steinitz, said the deal was based on “Iranian deception and (international) self-delusion.”
Yet he and other officials said Israel would have to turn its focus to the outcome of the final negotiations.
The exact details of Sunday’s deal, hammered out in Geneva between six world powers and Iran, were not immediately known. Israel was not a participant in the talks but remained in close touch with the U.S. and other allies during the negotiations.
Israel's Netanyahu calls Iran nuclear deal 'a historic mistake'