Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday to warn the world about the consequences of the expected deal with Iran. “[This is] a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.” Netanyahu criticized the Obama administration for making two major concessions to Iran: 1) allowing it to maintain a “vast nuclear infrastructure,” leading to a short break-out time; and 2) a sunset clause providing for the expiration of restrictions after a decade or so.
The administration has suggested that the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and any permanent deal would have an “unprecedented” verification mechanism allowing insight into the progress of Iran’s nuclear program; Netanyahu, on the other hand, declared: “[I]nspectors document violations; they don’t stop them. Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop them.” American officials, such as Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), have expressed similar reservations about the potential deal with Iran. Sen. Menendez has said that he is “very concerned about the news that’s leaking from the negotiations and that this entire deal will hinge on inspection and verification regimes while leaving Iran with the vast majority of its nuclear infrastructure.” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Monday that it “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” Iran has only partially addressed one of 12 areas of concern raised by the IAEA.
The other major concession that Netanyahu criticized is the sunset clause, the provision that any potential agreement with Iran would expire, according to the latest reports, in 10-15 years. Netanyahu warned that Iran “would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could produce many, many nuclear bombs…and this with full international legitimacy.” Netanyahu addressed the argument that Iran’s regime would change for the better in a decade countering that, “Iran’s neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.”
Rather than agreeing to a misguided sunset clause, Netanyahu called for “a better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends… at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.” Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute Michael Eisenstadt has also urged that restrictions should only be lifted “when Tehran ceases to support terrorism and seek the destruction of other states."
Finally, Netanyahu rebutted those who say that the only alternative to the current potential agreement is war, stating that the “alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.” Moreover, he stressed that the Iranians need the deal a lot more than we do and said, “If Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar -- call their bluff.”
President Barack Obama should listen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the dangers of Iran, Faisal Abbas, editor-in-chief of the Al-Arabiya news network, argued in an opinion piece published earlier today ahead of Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress. Abbas, it should be clear, is no fan of Netanyahu, beginning his column by saying that “It is extremely rare for any reasonable person to ever agree with anything Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says. However, one must admit, Bibi did get it right, at least when it came to dealing with Iran.”
Abbas noted that the Iranian threat is perhaps the “only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis. His main theme, one that Netanyahu would also concentrate on in his address, was that Iran is a major sponsor of global terror and cause of instability in the Middle East.
The Israeli PM managed to hit the nail right on the head when he said that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that “terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum” during a recent ceremony held in Tel Aviv to thank outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for his role during “challenging” times.
In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region.
What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei.
In his speech, Netanyahu added some of the particulars:
Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world’s oil supply.
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. That’s just last week, while they’re having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran’s attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Noting Iran’s aggressiveness, Abbas wrote further that “the real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing.”
Netanyahu also juxtaposed Iran’s twin threats to regional peace and security, noting that if the currently-proposed nuclear deal is signed, “The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons, and this with full international legitimacy.”
Netanyahu argued that rather than allowing restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program expire after a certain amount of time, the restrictions should remain in place until Iran shows that it is no longer a threat:
First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East.
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.