Israelis wrong on Iran: Obama
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.