Agreeing to disagree on Iran deal
In high-stakes talks aimed at calming U.S. allies’ fears about the Iran nuclear deal, Defence Secretary Ash Carter appeared to change no minds among Israeli leaders fiercely opposed to the deal.
They called it a bad deal. He called it a good deal. And they all just called it a day.
On Tuesday Carter did avoid a public tongue-lashing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader has called the Iran deal a monumental mistake and asserted that it severely weakens Israel’s security, strengthens Iran and contradicts President Barack Obama’s stated goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Carter and Netanyahu met Tuesday in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem. Neither commented on Iran in a brief appearance before news cameras and reporters.
They shook hands and Netanyahu quickly steered Carter upstairs, to Carter’s apparent surprise that Netanyahu was bypassing a chance to publicly attack the deal.
Later, during remarks to U.S., French, Belgian, British, Jordanian and other international troops at an air base in Jordan, Carter mentioned that Netanyahu had been blunt behind closed doors.
“The prime minister made it quite clear that he disagreed with us with respect to the nuclear deal in Iran,” Carter said. “But friends can disagree.” Carter has said his aim is to keep the U.S.-Israeli military relationship on track and to promise that the U.S. will offer more co-operation on joint defence projects like missile defence.
A Carter aide who attended the talks in Jerusalem later told reporters that Netanyahu bluntly expressed his opposition to the Iran deal but did not get angry or upset with Carter.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, turns to the media as he and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter prepare to go upstairs to meet at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Israel, Tuesday.