JERUSALEM – The Israeli government said Sunday that a deal reached with Iran only slows a nuclear program that will still be capable of producing a bomb.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office described it as “a bad agreement that gives Iran what it wants, allowing it to continue enriching uranium,” according to Army Radio.
“We’re worried about the agreement but our job is to keep up the warnings,” said Yair Lapid, Israel’s Minister of Finance and part of Netanyahu’s coalition government. “We’re not comfortable but this warning needs to be done. We have six months until there is (hopefully) a better agreement.
“We may be the only child in the room saying the king has no clothes but that’s what we must do.”
The White House said the interim deal limits Iran’s existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be turned into the fissile core of nuclear arms. The accord curbs the number and capabilities of the centrifuges used to enrich and limits Iran ability to “produce weapons-grade plutonium” from a reactor in the advanced stages of construction.
Iran’s nuclear program will also be subject to “increased transparency and intrusive monitoring.”
In return, the White House said economic sanctions on Iran imposed to get it to curtail its nuclear activity will be eased.
Nafatali Bennett, the Minister of Economy and Commerce, said on Army Radio that world powers could have used the talks in Geneva that led to the deal to force Iran to give up its nuclear program rather than freeze it at a point where it can resume work at any time.
“Iran was on the mat because of the sanctions, but then the West picked it up and gave it something to drink. Israel does not have to be a party to this agreement and has the right to defend its security,” he said, alluding to possible military action. “The whole Middle East is affected but the danger to Israel is unique.”
In early-morning Facebook sections Israelis compared the deal to the one made by former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who brokered an agreement with Nazi Germany in 1938 that did nothing to prevent a world war as promised.
The vast majority of people who commented in the Times of Israel believed the deal could harm Israel.
“If Ashtom is grinning ear to ear while speaking to Rohani this is bad news for Israel,” wrote Moriah Steiner.
Josh Hasten, who hosts a political radio show, told USA TODAY that, “There is no doubt that the leaders in Iran are smiling this morning as they have been given a pass by the world community to maintain the option of building a nuclear weapon.”
He describe the deal as an appeasement that will leave the entire world and not just Israel at risk of a nuclear Iran.
“It’s truly a major step in the wrong direction,” he said.