Israel’s Netanyahu Urges Congress to Block ‘Bad Deal’ With Iran

Daily News Article   —   Posted on March 4, 2015

(by Carol E. Lee And Jay Solomon, The Wall Street Journal) WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a highly anticipated speech to Congress he gave on Tuesday, said an emerging diplomatic agreement with Iran would ensure that Tehran eventually acquires a nuclear weapon.

“That deal would not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it would guarantee it – lots of them,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “This is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

Reacting to the prime minister’s speech, a senior Obama administration official complained that he offered no alternative to the present course of the talks. “Where is the alternative? Simply demanding that Iran completely capitulate [give in] is not a plan, nor would any country support us in that position,” the official said. “The prime minister offered no concrete action plan.”

Mr. Netanyahu, drawing frequent applause in the packed House chamber, directly challenged President Barack Obama ’s argument that a diplomatic accord allowing Tehran to retain some nuclear capabilities would be more effective than additional sanctions or military action. He said any agreement that stops short of completely dismantling Tehran’s nuclear program would be ineffective.

He also called on the U.S. to use the nuclear talks as leverage for forcing Iran to change its behavior, such as including provisions that the Iranian regime would stop supporting terrorism and threatening Israel.

Such a move would expand the scope of the international nuclear talks, which Obama administration officials have said repeatedly aren’t aimed at a broader rapprochement* with Iran. [*rapprochement: the development of friendlier relations between countries or groups of people who have been enemies]

“Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

Negotiators in U.S.-led talks with Iran are working toward a breakthrough by the end of March. Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. [No one believes this to be true.]

The White House has said it aims to get the best agreement possible from the talks, and won’t agree to a bad deal.

President Obama said Monday that the U.S. and other world powers negotiating with Iran are working toward a deal that would partially freeze Iran’s nuclear activity for at least 10 years and include measures to verify Tehran’s compliance. The goal, Mr. Obama said, is to ensure that Iran remains a year away from the ability to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Such an agreement “would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with Reuters.

“There’s no expert on Iran or nuclear proliferation around the world that seriously thinks that Iran is going to respond to additional sanctions by eliminating its nuclear program,” Mr. Obama said. [The WSJ provides no support for President Obama’s assertion here.]

Mr. Netanyahu’s address, which came three weeks before the next deadline for an Iran deal and two weeks before the Israeli leader is up for re-election, has deeply strained Israel’s relations with the Obama administration. [The media all say the same here, but it has been argued that President Obama and the Prime Minister already had a strained relationship. One example: President Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu during the UN General Assembly meeting.]

It has also has divided Democrats and Republicans over an alliance that has long enjoyed bipartisan support. Democrats and the White House were largely left in the dark as Republican leaders and Mr. Netanyahu’s aides quietly arranged for his speech. [It is thought that Republican Speaker John Boehner skipped this protocol because President Obama had said he would veto new sanctions on Iran. Republicans and some Democrats believe stronger sanctions are working and the best way to force Iran to end its nuclear weapons program is by increasing sanctions.]

The White House said Mr. Obama wouldn’t watch the Israeli leader’s speech, and some 50 Democratic lawmakers boycotted it.

Mr. Netanyahu directly appealed to lawmakers to block the emerging deal. His argument appeared to have some impact. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) told CNN afterward that a 10-year time frame isn’t long enough and should be extended to 15 or 20 years.

Mr. Obama expressed concern Monday about lawmakers undermining [damaging; weakening] the Iran talks before a deal is completed.

Copyright 2015 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Wall Street Journal. Visit the website at wsj .com.


Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to monitor and control enriched uranium supplies and processes in its efforts to ensure nuclear power generation safety and curb nuclear weapons proliferation (buildup).