Rebutting criticism from US President Barack Obama, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu today said that he had offered a “practical alternative” to the prospective nuclear agreement being worked out between six world powers and Iran to foil Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
“I got the impression that they better understand that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal and that the alternative is a better deal,” Netanyahu said after returning to Israel from his US visit.
“The response I received from both Democrats and Republicans was very supportive,” the Israeli premier said emphasising that both Democrats and Republicans now better understand why the current agreement under discussion is deeply flawed.
The Israeli leader, in the middle of a hard fought election campaign, said that he presented “a practical alternative” which will impose tougher restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme that will extend “by years” the Islamic republic’s “breakout time”, or the time it would need to amass enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb.
“I also called on the P5+1 (the five UN Security Council members + Germany) to insist on a deal that would link the lifting of those restrictions to Iran’s ceasing its sponsorship of terrorism around the world, its aggression against its neighbours and its calls for Israel’s destruction,” he said.
Obama yesterday said that Netanyahu’s speech had offered “nothing new”.
“We don’t yet have a deal. But if we are successful, this will be the best deal possible with Iran to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” the US president said after claiming to have read a transcript of Netanyahu’s speech.
“On the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the Prime Minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives,” he added.
During his speech yesterday, Netanyahu called on the P5+1 to drop the current deal and strive to attain a better one by increasing pressure on Iran.
He denied the oft-made claim that a breakdown of the current negotiations would make a diplomatic solution of the nuclear standoff impossible.
“Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true,” the Israeli leader told the US Congress during the much publicised controversial speech which did not have the blessings of the White House.
“The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal: a better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short breakout time; a better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme in place until Iran’s aggression ends.