Jerusalem, 10 November
Israel plans to lobby the US Congress to prevent a deal being reached on Iran’s nuclear programme, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said today ahead of the 20 November resumption of talks.
“Before the talks resume, we will lobby dozens of members of the US Congress to whom I will personally explain during a visit beginning on Tuesday that Israel’s security is in jeopardy,” he told army radio.
Mr Bennett was speaking after Iran and world powers failed to reach a deal on Teheran’s nuclear programme despite three days of talks, dashing hopes of a long-sought agreement in the decade-old standoff.
However, diplomats also said significant progress had been made in the marathon negotiations and that talks would resume in Geneva on 20 November.
Mr Bennett said there were “differences” within US President Barack Obama’s administration on reaching a deal with the Islamic Republic.
“If in ten years an atomic bomb hidden in a suitcase explodes in New York, or a nuclear missile hits Rome, one could say it is because of concessions that would have been made” to Iran, he said.
Tension between Israel and the USA is high after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday publicly slammed a proposed interim nuclear deal with Iran as “very bad” and urged US Secretary of State John Kerry “not to rush and sign”.
Later that day, Mr Obama telephoned Mr Netanyahu to update him on the talks, with a White House statement saying the president “underscored his strong commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon”.
Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister, Danny Danon, told public radio today: “In another two and a half years there will be someone else in the White House, but we will still be here.”
“If we have no choice we will act ~ that’s why Israel has an air force,” he added.
The intense negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers ended early Sunday in Geneva without a deal been reached on Teheran’s contested nuclear programme.
The P5+1 ~ permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the USA, plus Germany ~ suspect Iran’s programme is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, despite Teheran’s repeated denials.
Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, believes Iran must be prevented from reaching a military nuclear capability at any cost, and has refused to rule out a pre-emptive military strike to stop it.