News Middle East

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Israel warns 'bad deal' with Iran on nuclear programme could lead to war

Published 13/11/2013 | 18:06

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned today that a "bad deal" between global powers and Iran over its nuclear programme could lead to war.

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His government said an offer on the table for what Washington calls a "modest" easing of sanctions would in fact negate up to 40 percent of the sanctions' impact, reducing pressure on Tehran to give up a nuclear programme that the West and Israel believe is aimed at building a bomb.

 

The Jewish state has been lobbying hard against a proposed deal, which would initially offer partial relief from sanctions in return for some steps by Iran to constrain its activities.

 

Negotiations between Iran and six U.N. powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - broke up without agreement in Geneva on Saturday but are scheduled to resume on Nov. 20 with both sides saying they are optimistic.

 

Western diplomats involved in the process declined comment on the Israeli assessment of how a deal might affect sanctions, saying the terms of any accord were uncertain and still secret.

 

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful. The United States and the European Union believe it is seeking a nuclear bomb and imposed tough oil and financial sanctions last year that have caused serious economic harm.

 

Addressing Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said continued economic pressure on Iran was the best alternative to two other options, which he described as a bad deal and war.

 

"I would go so far as to say that a bad deal could lead to the second, undesired option," he said, meaning war.

 

Israel, believed to be the sole nuclear power in the Middle East, has long said it reserves the right to use force to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. However, many military experts doubt Israel has the capability to destroy Iran's nuclear sites without U.S. help.

 

Washington says it is important to seek a negotiated solution, especially since Iran elected a relative moderate this year as president, Hassan Rouhani.

 

The United States has maintained that any initial change in sanctions on offer would be modest and reversible, but Israel says the benefits to Iran would be greater than implied and the steps Tehran would take would do little to curb its ambitions.

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