Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed to President Obama before their bilateral meeting Wednesday at the White House that he “fervently” hopes a bad deal with Iran isn’t brewing.
The Obama administration continued the P5+1 talks with Iran during the UN General Assembly last week.
“As you know, Mr. President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you’ve worked so hard to put in place, and leave it as a threshold nuclear power,” Netanyahu said with Obama at his side. “I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen.”
In his remarks before the prime minister’s, Obama said they would “have an opportunity to discuss the progress that’s being made with respect to dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, which obviously has been a high priority for not only Israel, but also the United States and the world community.”
“It’s challenging I think for an Israeli Prime Minister to have to work so hard during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but I know that the Prime Minister’s utmost priority is making sure that his country is safe during these difficult times,” Obama added.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest stressed “there are statements from leaders in Iran indicating that they don’t have designs on a nuclear weapon.”
“And what we need to do is we need to reach an agreement between the Iranian regime and the general international community, a verifiable agreement to demonstrate that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon,” Earnest said. “…Previous interactions with Iran about their nuclear program have drawn the expressions of frustration from some in the international community because they have observed Iran using ongoing diplomatic conversations as cover to make advances on their nuclear program. That is not the case in the context of these talks. Rather, the opposite has occurred.”
Netanyahu told NPR this morning that Israel and Washington have “a difference of emphasis between the nuclear weapons themselves or the capability to make them in short order.”
“To the extent that an agreement emerges that is close to our position which says, no enrichment capability, no centrifuge. You don’t really need in Iran because there are 17 nations in the world that have civilian nuclear energy without centrifuges. Centrifuges are only used for one thing — to make bomb-grade material,” he continued.
Netanyahu would not promise acceptance of any agreement that comes out of the talks.
“Well, I hope very much that it approaches as close as possible our position,” he said. “Depends what it is. But I’ve often said and I’ve heard it echoed from the president, no deal is better than a bad deal. And a deal that would leave Iran with capacity to arrive in short order to nuclear weapons would be a very bad deal.”