Netanyahu: Iran deal would create a nuclear arms race in the Middle East

Updated

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday continued his full-court press against the initial nuclear deal with Iran, arguing that one of the “tragic results” would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. 

“A Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear trip wires is a nightmare for the world,” he said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “I think this deal is a dream deal for Iran, and it’s a nightmare deal for the world.”

Netanyahu’s comments come just days after President Obama presented the framework for a historic accord with the country the United States has been in a state of war with for decades. The Israeli leader on Sunday insisted that Israel wants a diplomatic solution and that he’s not trying to kill any deal – just a “bad” one.

“We want a diplomatic solution, but a good one, one that rolls back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and one that ties the final lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program with a change in Iran’s behavior, namely that they stop their aggression in the region, that they stop their worldwide terrorism, and that they stop calling and working for the annihilation of Israel,” he said.

Related: Will Congress derail the deal with Iran?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Sunday warned that Netanyahu’s continued attempts to scuttle a deal could backfire. During an appearance on CNN’s “Face the Nation,” the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence committee gave the prime minister her advice: “contain” yourself.

“I wish that he would contain himself, because he has put out no real alternative,” the California senator said. “In his speech to the Congress, no real alternative. Since then, no real alternative.”

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, another leading Democrat on the committee, added on “Meet the Press” that trying to sanction Iran into submission is at odds with the reality of the situation: “a pretty remarkable deal” is on the table.

“The idea that we should just go back to the negotiating table and put back sanctions into place, I think, doesn’t understand the reality,” Murphy said. “With this deal on the table, it would’ve been hard to get our partners, especially Russia and China, to go back to sanctions when most of our objectives had been met at the negotiating table.”

While Netanyahu argued on Sunday that not a single centrifuge would be destroyed under the new deal, Secretary of State John Kerry painted a vastly different picture when he spoke in Switzerland on Thursday. Kerry said that the framework would cut Iran’s existing centrifuges by two-thirds for 10 years.

The deal, which would also decrease Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium by 98% for 15 years, was brokered between Iran and diplomats from the P5+1: U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia. The six world powers hope to set limits on Iran’s nuclear program, while the Middle Eastern country hopes to see grueling economic sanctions lifted.

Netanyahu insisted that the framework for the deal with Iran would leave the Sunni state with a vast nuclear infrastructure and that the billions pouring in after sanctions are lifted would not be used to pump up a “worldwide terror machine” versus rebuilding infrastructure.  

Related: Israeli leadership opposes Iran nuclear deal

“The preeminent terrorist state of our time should not have access to a vast nuclear capability that will ultimately give them nuclear weapons,” he said.

Obama, however, called the deal a “historic understanding,” and has reassured that “if Iran cheats, the world will know it” and take action.

“If this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies and our world safer,” Obama said on Thursday. 

Iran and Israel

Netanyahu: Iran deal would create a nuclear arms race in the Middle East

Updated