Israeli government ministers lambasted the Iran nuclear deal to which the U.S. and five other nations agreed Sunday morning, calling it a “bad deal,” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal a “historic mistake.”
“What was accomplished last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it’s a historic mistake,” Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. “Today the world has become much more dangerous, because the most dangerous regime in the world took a meaningful step toward acquiring the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
Netanyahu thus directly contradicted President Barack Obama’s assessment that the deal would open “a new path toward a world that is more secure” as well as Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurances that the deal would make Israel and other U.S. allies safer.
“For the first time the world’s leading powers agreed to the enrichment of uranium in Iran, while ignoring the Security Council resolutions that they themselves championed,” the prime minister said according to the Times of Israel. “These sanctions have been removed for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be canceled in weeks. This agreement and what it means threaten many countries, and including, of course, Israel. Israel is not bound by this agreement. The regime in Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction and Israel has the right and responsibility to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
“This is a bad deal. It grants Iran exactly what it wanted, both a significant easing in sanctions and preservation of the most significant parts of its nuclear program," an unnamed official in Netanyahu's office said earlier on Sunday.
Netanyahu appeared to take issue with the conclusion of a senior Obama administration official who said the deal did not include recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium. An unnamed official in Netanyahu’s office told Army Radio that the agreement does allow Iran to enrich uranium, leaves Iran with all of the centrifuges that would allow it to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons, and does not dismantle Iran's Arak heavy-water reactor, which could produce plutonium.
"The economic pressure on Iran could have brought about a much better deal which would have dismantled Iran's nuclear capabilities," the official added according to Reuters.
Israel Radio reported that Netanyahu was expected to speak by phone with President Barack Obama on Sunday.
“There is no doubt that it’s the greatest diplomatic victory for the Islamic Republic since the Khomeni Revolution. There is no doubt that they received acknowledgement of their ‘legitimate’…in their words, right to enrich uranium and that brings us here to a Middle East arms race,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel’s Army Radio.
Liberman warned that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would now likely talk about their “right” to nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes.”
“This agreement brings us to a new reality and will force us to make a new appraisal of the situation and consider our next steps,” Liberman said.
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the world should not be celebrating a deal based on “Iranian deception and self-delusion.”
“Just like the failed deal with North Korea, the current deal can actually bring Iran closer to the bomb,” Steinitz said according to the Times of Israel. “Israel cannot take part in the international celebrations based on Iranian deception and self-delusion.”
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett called the deal a “very bad agreement.”
He questioned the strategy of those negotiating with Iran, and wondered why they caved precisely when Iran was feeling the impact of sanctions.
“It’s like in a boxing match when the other side is on the floor, the judge counts ‘6, 7, 8, 9.’ At the last minute, the West lifted Iran off the floorboards and gave them a cup of water,” Bennett told an Army Radio interviewer.
“The campaign isn’t over. We don’t give up,” Bennett said, adding “the State of Israel is not bound by this agreement. If the State of Israel sees that Iran is endangering it, the State of Israel is entitled to defend itself and is able to defend itself.”
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that the agreement struck was “a bit better but not much better” than the deal that was being discussed earlier this month. Still, he concluded, “It’s a bad agreement.”
The centrist politician said, “Neither I nor anyone else in the Israeli government understand how the world fails to understand” that Iran has 19,000 centrifuges.
He said that while Canada and Mexico are nuclear states, they don’t have centrifuges. “You scream until you’re blue in the face and try to understand why they’re not listening. The world wanted an agreement…a diplomatic solution of course is better than a war…just not this agreement,” Lapid told Israel’s Army Radio Sunday morning.
See TheBlaze’s earlier report on the agreement that was struck early Sunday morning in Geneva between Iran and the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia after four days of negotiations.
This story has been updated to include Netanyahu's quotes at Sunday's cabinet meeting.