Last updated: 10 November, 2013

Israel to convince world to avoid “bad” Iran deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would do all it could to keep world powers from striking a “bad and dangerous” deal with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Netanyahu said he had spoken with leaders of the United States, Russia, France, Germany and Britain — five of the six world powers negotiating with Iran — and told them the mooted deal was “bad and dangerous.”

According to Netanyahu, the agreement being advanced would remove sanctions on Iran while still enabling them to enrich uranium and advance work on a plutonium reactor.

“I asked them what was the rush? I suggested they wait,” he said in remarks relayed by his office. “I hope they reach a good agreement, and we will do all we can to convince world powers to avoid a bad deal.”

Netanyahu’s remarks came hours after Iran and world powers failed to reach a deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme despite three days of talks in Geneva.

However, diplomats also said significant progress had been made in the marathon negotiations and that talks would resume in the Swiss city on November 20.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said earlier he would lobby the US congress against the impending deal.

Later on Sunday, Netanyahu was also to address the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America and directly appeal to the American public in a televised interview with CBS’s Face the Nation, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Tensions between Israel and the United States were running high after Netanyahu on Friday publicly slammed a proposed interim nuclear deal with Iran as “very bad” and urged US Secretary of State John Kerry “not to rush and sign”.

US President Barack Obama then telephoned Netanyahu to update him on the talks, while the White House rejected Israeli criticism of a deal not yet signed yet as “premature.”

Israeli media was reporting on Sunday that a delegation of senior American officials headed by lead US negotiator to the Iran talks, Wendy Sherman, was on its way to Israel to update Netanyahu.

The West and Israel suspect that the atomic programme of Iran, which is negotiating with world powers, including China, is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Tehran’s repeated denials.

Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, insists Iran must be prevented from reaching a military nuclear capability at any cost, and it has refused to rule out a pre-emptive military strike.