Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued sharp criticism of the US deal being sought with Iran over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu appears more determined than ever to oppose it.
According to newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the prime minister was scathing about the fact that Iran has merely agreed to reduce uranium production to 20 per cent of the current level. "How many uranium power plants will be completely suspended?" he asked, to be told "none". When he asked what is being given in return, he was told that sanctions will be eased and Iran will get billions of dollars in trade credits.
In response, US Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC news, "I'm not sure that the prime minister, who I have great respect for, knows exactly what the amount or the terms are going to be because we haven't arrived at them all yet." That, said Kerry, is what is being negotiated. "It is not a partial deal; let me make that crystal clear as I have to the prime minister directly. It is a first step in an effort that will lock the programme in where it is today; in fact, set it back, while one negotiates the full deal."
Kerry added pointedly, "We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid." America, he insisted, has a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not it is acting in its interests and those of the world, "particularly of our allies like Israel and Gulf states and others in the region".
Netanyahu did not stay silent when told of Kerry's response. "I am fully informed on the details of what is proposed on Iran," he claimed, "and what is being proposed will not lead to a decline in Iran's nuclear capabilities." The sanctions system will collapse, he added. "When it comes to the security of the Jewish people, I will not stand silent and this will not happen during my term in office."
The Israeli newspaper noted that an American source refuted Netanyahu's allegations that the agreement with Iran is "bad", suggesting that Israel had received information about the deal from other sources, and that is what caused the confusion.