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World is a ‘much more dangerous place’ - Israeli leader says his country not bound by historic nuke deal

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2015 | 11:56 AM
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem yesterday


Israel's prime minister condemned yesterday's international nuclear agreement with Iran as a "stunning historic mistake" and said his country is not bound by the deal, strongly hinting that military action remains an option.

Iran, the United States and other world powers struck a historic deal yesterday to curb Iranian nuclear programmes in an agreement aimed at easing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran in the volatile Middle East. In exchange, Iran will get billions of dollars in relief from crushing international sanctions.

The accord, reached after long, fractious negotiations, marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that have called each other the "leading state sponsor of terrorism" and "the Great Satan".

leading deal opponent

Benjamin Netanyahu has been a leading opponent of the deal since its contours were announced earlier this year and conciliatory statements by both the United States and Iranian leaders did nothing to change his sentiment.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said the agreement would lift painful economic sanctions against Iran - bringing in a much-needed influx of funds - without stopping it from developing a capacity to prevent nuclear weapons.

"This cash bonanza will fuel Iran's terrorism worldwide, its aggression in the region, and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing," he said.

He said the deal does nothing to address Iran's "aggressive" behaviour in the region, which includes support for anti-Israel militant groups such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, and frequent references to Israel's destruction.

He noted that just last Friday, Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, participated in a parade where American and Israeli flags were burned.

Netanyahu also said the deal "repeats the mistakes" of an earlier international agreement with North Korea, in which a system of inspections and verifications failed to prevent the country from developing a nuclear-weapons capability.

deal expiration

When the deal expires in a decade, an "unreformed, unrepentant and far richer terrorist regime" in Tehran will have the capacity to build an entire nuclear arsenal, Netanyahu added.

"What a stunning, historic mistake," he said, stressing that Israel is not bound by the deal. "We will always defend ourselves," he said.

Such sentiments were echoed across the political spectrum in Israel, where concern is high that the country's archenemy has duped the world and will acquire nuclear weapons to use against Israel.

Netanyahu has been at the forefront of global opposition to the nuclear deal and has openly clashed with the Obama administration and other global powers that negotiated the deal, which lifts sanctions in return for greater restrictions on its nuclear programme.