Netanyahu to reveal details on Iran deal during Congress speech
Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, February 28, 2015. (AFP/File)
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Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu will reveal details from an emerging nuclear deal to “uninformed” US lawmakers during his controversial speech to Congress on Tuesday, a senior official traveling with him said early Monday, as Netanyahu landed near Washington.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told reporters covering the prime minister’s trip that Israel knows more about the agreement with Iran than many members of Congress.
“We know many details from the agreement being put together, details that we feel members of Congress are unaware of,” the official said, according to Haaretz. “According to the information we have, the deal currently taking shape will leave Iran with the capability to build a nuclear weapon, if Khamenei make a decision to do so.”
The official said Netanyahu would reveal some details of the agreement during his speech before both houses of Congress on Tuesday, according to Ynet.
“We are not here to offend President Obama whom we respect very much,” said a Netanyahu adviser, who was not authorized to be identified. “The prime minister is here to warn, in front of any stage possible, the dangers” of the deal that may be taking shape.
A report late last month that the US was pursuing a deal with Iran that would freeze the ability to produce a nuclear weapons for 10 years before allowing it to ramp up enrichment activities was quickly denied by the White House and State Department.
However, Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have said the deal being put together is a bad one that will be dangerous for Israel and the Western world.
The invitation to speak to Congress extended by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Netanyahu’s acceptance have caused an uproar that has exposed tensions between Israel and the US, its most important ally.
By consenting to speak, Netanyahu angered the White House, which was not consulted in advance, and Democrats, who were forced to choose between showing support for Israel and backing the president.
“I will do everything in my ability to secure our future,” Netanyahu said before flying to Washington. He described himself as “an emissary” of the Jewish people.
Boehner said Iran’s nuclear ambitions were a threat well beyond the region.
“We’re not going to resolve this issue by sticking our heads in the sand,” Boehner told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
He said Netanyahu “can talk about this threat, I believe, better than anyone. And the United States Congress wants to hear from him, and so do the American people.”
Netanyahu considers unacceptable any deal that does not entirely end Iran’s nuclear program.
But President Barack Obama is willing to leave some nuclear activity intact, backed by safeguards that Iran is not trying to develop a weapon. Iran insists its program is solely for peaceful energy and medical research.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday tried to calm tensions with Israel before the congressional address, yet insisted the Obama administration’s diplomatic record with Iran entitles the US to “the benefit of the doubt” as negotiators work toward a long-term nuclear deal.
Kerry said in an interview broadcast before he arrived in Switzerland for talks with Iran’s foreign minister that Netanyahu was welcome to speak in the US and that the administration did not want the event “turned into some great political football.”
That sentiment was a step back from some of the sharp rhetoric between the allies in recent weeks, and Kerry mentioned that he had talked to Netanyahu as recently as Saturday.
But Kerry stressed that Israel was safer as a result of the short-term nuclear pact that world powers and Iran reached in late 2013, and he described that improvement as the “standard we will apply to any agreement” with the Tehran.
© 2015 The Times of Israel. All rights reserved.
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