Obama Defends, Israel Slams Iran Nuke Deal

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 |  Israel Today Staff

In his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama defended the interim nuclear deal his administration brokered between Iran and Western powers, and threatened to use his executive authority against any attempts to derail it.

"Let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it," Obama told American legislators. "For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed."

Meanwhile, Israel continues to argue that diplomacy has already been given a chance for the past 20 years, and has proved to be a failure in deterring Iran. Jerusalem sees Obama as supremely naive if he believes the temporary agreement reached in Geneva last November will lead to a different result this time around.

"This agreement merely set Iran back six weeks — no more — according to our assessments," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Speaking at the same conference, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Israel sees the US-brokered Iran deal as "a historic missed opportunity."

In an interview with The Times of Israel, former National Security Advisor Uzi Arad echoed those sentiments.

"From Israel’s perspective, the result [of the interim nuclear deal] is disappointing," said Arad. "They [the Iranians] will continue enriching [uranium] to a level they regard as permissible, until the opportunity arises when they decide to catch up easily. It’s only a matter of time."

Indeed, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed out that the Iran nuclear deal reached in Geneva a few months earlier had not required the Islamic Republic to dismantle a single piece of its nuclear program.

"If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment," Zarif told CNN. "We are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching [uranium] over 5%."

Of course, that means Iran can just as easily turn the nuclear program back on at any given time, and be right back on track in a matter of weeks, as Netanyahu warned.

A survey of American voters prior to Obama's speech was carried out by the Mellman Group on behalf of the Israel Project, and found that a majority of Americans agree with Israel on this matter.

Over 66 percent of respondents gave a negative score to Obama's handling of the Iran nuclear affair. Most Americans would have preferred their government to only ease sanctions after Iran had actually dismantled its ability to produce weapons-grade uranium, an outcome that Israel, too, could have supported.

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