Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized President Barack Obama directly on Thursday evening, telling him that the new framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program “threatens the survival of the State of Israel.” The two leaders spoke by telephone to discuss the preliminary deal that negotiators from the P5+1 nations reached with Iran at talks in Lausanne, Switzerland that extended past the original Tuesday deadline.
Earlier, in his remarks from the White House about the deal, Obama had accused Netanyahu of urging the U.S. to avoid a “peaceful resolution” to the Iran crisis and to go to war. Netanyahu, however, had told Congress last month that war was not necessary, and that the U.S. had leverage to reach a better deal with Iran–if it chose to use that leverage instead of giving in to aggressive Iranian demands and illusions about Iran’s intentions.
Broadly, the framework agreement allows Iran to keep all of its known nuclear facilities, and to obtain relief from all international sanctions as soon as it demonstrates compliance with the final deal. Iran will also retain some of its enriched uranium stockpile. In return, Iran agreed to submit to inspections, reduce the number of centrifuges in operation, and to replace the nuclear reactor at its controversial Arak power plant.
Iran’s leaders were jubilant, and they disputed some of the White House’s claims about its concessions. The full framework agreement has not yet been made public, and Iran wants to keep large parts of it secret.
Netanyahu’s remarks to Obama, reported by the Times of Israel, reinforce warnings that Israel is considering a military strike against Iran–the implication of the conclusion that Israel’s existence is in danger.
The White House and Israel released competing accounts of the conversations between the two leaders (via IMRA).
The White House version:
President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu today from Air Force One to discuss the political framework reached between the P5+1, the EU, and Iran on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward. He underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel and emphasized that the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel. The President told the Prime Minister that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.
The Prime Minister’s version:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Barack Obama this evening and expressed Israel’s strong opposition to the framework agreement with Iran which poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
“A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel.
Just two days ago, Iran said that ‘The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable,’ and in these fateful days Iran is accelerating the arming of its terror proxies to attack Israel.
This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it.
It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war.
The alternative is standing firm and increasing the pressure on Iran until a better deal is achieved.”