– Isolated Israel denounces Iran deal (Sky News, Nov 24, 2013):
Isolated and angry with its ally the United States, Israel has bitterly denounced a ‘bad’ nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran while repeating its threat of military action against Iran.
Hours after Iran agreed with the P5+1 group – the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany – to row back some of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged that ‘what was achieved in Geneva is not a historic agreement but rather a historic mistake’.
Netanyahu’s office had earlier called it a ‘bad agreement’ that ‘gives Iran exactly what it wanted – a significant easing of sanctions and allows it to keep hold of the most essential parts of its nuclear program’.
Since the election of Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani, whose diplomatic overtures allowed a resumption of dialogue with long-time enemy the United States, Netanyahu repeatedly warned that Tehran’s intentions had not changed.
Israel suspects the nuclear program is aimed at developing a weapons capability but Tehran insists it is entirely peaceful.
The Israeli premier had called Rouhani a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and repeatedly warned world powers against striking a ‘bad and dangerous’ deal with the Islamic republic, saying it could result in war.
Netanyahu reiterated Israel reserved the right to defend itself through military action, telling the UN Security Council in October that his country was ready to order a strike to prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons capability.
And on Sunday, Israel’s hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stressed that ‘all options are on the table’.
‘The responsibility for the security of the Jewish people and the population of Israel remains the sole responsibility of the Israeli government,’ he told public radio.
US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to assuage Israel, insisting the deal was a ‘first step.’
‘This first step, I want to emphasise, actually rolls back the program from where it is today, enlarges the breakout time, which would not have occurred unless this agreement existed.
‘It will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer,’ Kerry told reporters.
The Geneva deal came just days after Netanyahu, in an apparent snub to the US and a last-ditch effort, travelled to Moscow to try to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin not to enter a deal with Iran.