Analysis: Obama is Deaf, at Least to Netanyahu

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made public suggestions as to how a “bad deal” on Iran’s nuclear program could be improved. He suggested shutting down all of Iran’s underground facilities, and lifting sanctions only when Iran stops carrying out terror and aggression in the region. It was at least the fourth time Netanyahu had proposed clear alternatives to the Iran deal–though U.S. President Barack Obama persists in pretending he has never proposed any.

On Saturday, speaking from the Summit of the Americas in Panama, Obama claimed that Netanyahu had never made any suggestions about what a better deal would look like. “The prime minister of Israel is deeply opposed to it, I think he’s made that very clear,” Obama told reporters. “I have repeatedly asked–what is the alternative that you present that you think makes it less likely for Iran to get a nuclear weapon? And I have yet to obtain a good answer on that,” he said.

And yet Netanyahu has made explicit, proposed alternatives clear on several occasions, including several times over the past several weeks–not just from Israel, but from the speaker’s rostrum in Congress in Washington, D.C.

Prior to the deal, speaking to Congress on March 3, Netanyahu said:

We can insist that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.


Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second…


Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.


And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.


Thank you….

The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.


A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends.


A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.

On the eve of the deadline for a deal to be reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, Netanyahu offered specific alternatives:

A better deal would significantly roll back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. A better deal would link the eventual lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to a change in Iran’s behavior. Iran must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world and stop its threats to annihilate Israel. That should be non-negotiable and that’s the deal that the world powers must insist upon.

After the deal was announced on April 2, Netanyahu’s government circulated specific suggestions for changes on April 6:

The changes set out by [Minister for Strategic Affairs Yuval] Steinitz include: Barring further Iranian R&D on advanced centrifuges; significantly reducing the number of centrifuges Iran would have available to press back into service if it violates the deal; shuttering the Fordo underground enrichment facility; requiring Iran’s compliance in detailing previous nuclear activities with possible military dimensions; shipping its stockpile of lower-enriched uranium out of the country; and ensuring “anywhere, anytime” inspections of Iran’s facilities.

And yet Obama still pretends that Netanyahu has not proposed alternatives. He is either deaf, or simply not interested.



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