Is­raelis wrong on Iran: Obama

The Courier-Mail - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu sparred over Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, with the US leader point­edly warn­ing that the Is­raeli leader has been wrong about the is­sue be­fore.

On the eve of a land­mark speech to the US Congress, Mr Ne­tanyahu de­clared that a USIran deal on cur­tail­ing Tehran’s nu­clear am­bi­tions “could threaten the sur­vival of Is­rael”.

He spoke as US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and his Ira­nian coun­ter­part Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif met in Switzer­land for three days of talks.

But Mr Obama and his lead­ing for­eign pol­icy of­fi­cials did not leave the field to the Is­raeli leader, in­sist­ing their plan was the best way to con­tain Iran’s al­leged threat.

Mr Obama and Mr Ne­tanyahu both in­sisted the tra­di­tional al­liance be­tween their coun­tries re­mains strong, but the US leader point­edly crit­i­cised the Is­raeli’s pre­vi­ous dec­la­ra­tions.

Re­fer­ring to crit­i­cism of a pre­vi­ous in­terim US-Iran deal that paved the way for this week’s on­go­ing talks in Switzer­land, Mr Obama said: “Ne­tanyahu made all sorts of claims.

“This was go­ing to be a ter­ri­ble deal,” he said.

“This was go­ing to re­sult in Iran get­ting $US50 bil­lion worth of re­lief. Iran would not abide by the agree­ment. None of that has come true.”

Mr Ne­tanyahu’s lob­by­ing trip to Wash­ing­ton was to cul­mi­nate yes­ter­day with the ad- dress to Congress. He was in­vited by Speaker of the House John Boehner, one of Mr Obama’s lead­ing Repub­li­can op­po­nents, and he ac­cepted with nei­ther party in­form­ing the White House.

“My speech is not in­tended to show any dis­re­spect to Pres­i­dent Obama or the of­fice that he holds. I have great re­spect for both,” Mr Ne­tanyahu told thou­sands of ac­tivists at a pro-Is­rael lobby con­fer­ence.

“Is­rael and the United States agree that Iran shouldn’t have nu­clear weapons,’’ he said.

“But we dis­agree on the best way to pre­vent them from de­vel­op­ing those weapons.”

Ne­tanyahu aides say that Is­rael has “ex­cel­lent in­for­ma­tion” that talks be­tween the Is­lamic repub­lic and the group ne­go­ti­at­ing the deal are head­ing to­ward an eas­ing of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions with­out the iron-clad safe­guards the Jewish state says are es­sen­tial to deny Iran a nu­clear bomb.

POL­ICY RIFT: Barack Obama.

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