Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu railed against the possible imminent return to a deal between leading powers and Iran meant to curb Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions, saying it was worse than the original deal he battled against seven years ago.
“The terrible deal with Iran… casts a heavy shadow on our security and our future,” Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv.
“The deal enables Iran to get everything and give nothing… The current deal is worse than the previous deal,” the former prime minister said, wielding a wand at slides on an jumbo-sized screen.
In the lead-up to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015, Netanyahu crusaded to stop the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany from making a deal with Iran, including making a bold but politically controversial direct address to Congress.
Then-US president Donald Trump tore up the accord in 2018, citing many of Netanyahu’s complaints, and promised to negotiate a better pact, though that never happened.
After over a year of talks, the US and Iran now appear to be close to reviving the deal via indirect talks sponsored by the EU. On Tuesday, a US official said the sides were closer, but gaps remain, after Iran dropped two key demands. Moments before Netanyahu’s speech, the US confirmed it had replied to Iran’s latest proffer, which came in response to a last-ditch effort to revive the broken-down negotiations.
It’s unclear if any deal could have satisfied the Likud leader. Rather, he advocated a path that integrates crushing sanctions staying in place alongside a credible military threat.
“Deals don’t stop the nuclear plan,” he said, rather “the combination of grinding sanctions and a rich, realistic, credible military threat are the only things that stop [a nuclear program].”
Reviving many of his critiques of the 2015 deal, Netanyahu said the deal would give Iran “hundreds of billions of dollars” for terror activity, up to $1 trillion by the deal’s 2031 sunset. This money, Netanyahu claimed, will go to fund “terror and Iranian aggression in the region.”
Netanyahu also said that the deal would allow Iran to dramatically increase its uranium enrichment capabilities through the deployment of an “advanced centrifuge network.” Within 2 years, Iran could put 3,500 upgraded centrifuges to work, he claimed, bumping enrichment capabilities to up to 20 times current levels. Enriched uranium is the fissile material needed for a nuclear reaction.