Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is continuing to pour cold water over the prospects of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program even after talks between the Middle Eastern nation and six world powers collapsed early Sunday morning.
Engaging in direct talks with Iran for the first time in more than three decades, the U.S. and its allies sought to limit Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon in exchange for some sanctions relief. The talks were far enough along last week that Secretary Kerry flew to Geneva to participate, but ultimately failed after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius implied the deal did not go far enough in constraining Iran’s ability to enrich uranium or to complete a reactor that will be able to produce plutonium.
“Iran gives practically nothing and it gets a hell of a lot,” Netanyahu said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“That’s not a good deal. I hope — I can only express my wish — that the P5+1 use the time to get a good deal that takes away Iran’s nuclear military capability,” he said. The P5+1 is the group of six world powers negotiating with Iran, including the five permanent members of the U.N. Security council and Germany.
“I’m expressing, as I said, not only the concerns of Israel but the concerns of many in the region. Some of them say it aloud, some say it behind closed doors, but I’ll tell you this is the broad feeling here, broad feeling, that Iran might hit the jackpot here. And it’s not good. It’s not good for us, it’s not good for America, it’s not good for the Middle East, it’s not good for Europe either,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli prime minister has repeatedly spoken out about his concerns over the U.S. negotiating with Iran. He argued that Iran got too much from the deal, as described to him by American sources, because it did not require them to dismantle a single centrifuge, and would set off a scramble among the international community to ease sanctions on the country. “Not a good idea, not a good deal. A very bad deal,” he said.
Former Defense Sec. Leon Panetta, also on “Face the Nation,” said it was appropriate for the U.S. to be wary of Iran’s intentions.
“We’ve got to be very skeptical,” Panetta said. “Iran is a country that has promoted terrorism. They’ve had a hidden enrichment facility that we had to find out about. So we’ve got to be skeptical and make sure that, even with some kind of interim agreement, that we know what the next steps are going to be in order to ensure that they really do stand by their word.”
“You better operate from a position of strength if you want to deal with the Iranians,” he added.
Any deal must question what will happen to enriched fuel that Iran already has, the country’s centrifuges, and heavy water reactors, Panetta said, and must address ensure that the country does not have any other hidden enrichment sites.
“The president and I share the goal of making sure that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said of President Obama. “I think where we might have a difference of opinion is on how to prevent it.”