Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, warned the U.S. on Tuesday of a “nuclear nightmare” after its proposed deal with Iran on nuclear programme. Netanyahu’s remark drew a sharp rebuke from President Obama, thus widening the chink in the relation between the U.S. and Israel. Dueling messages were exchanged between the two leaders within a few hours.
Netanyahu tried to make a case against the Iran diplomacy of Obama while addressing the U.S. Congress, and align himself with the Republicans, Obama’s foes. Obama reacted to the Netanyahu’s remark in the Oval office in a frustrated tone by calling it “nothing new”. As per the state news agency IRNA, Iranian government in its response, denounced the speech of Netanyahu by terming it “boring and repetitive.”
The Netanyahu’s speech, boycotted by several fellow democrats of Obama, was focused on the Iranian leadership which he described as “as radical as ever” and unworthy of trust. He added that the proposed deal between Iran on the one hand, and the U.S. and other world powers on the other would only pave the Iran’s way to a nuclear bomb rather than block it. The deal would, he added, only guarantee that Iran got those nuclear weapons in abundance, and the world would have to reckon with a far more dangerous Iran in the Middle East. He cautioned all that a Middle East equipped with nuclear arsenals would trigger the countdown for an impending nuclear nightmare. Netanyahu’s speech was directed against Obama’s Iran strategy point by point, and got standing ovations by those present, predominantly, the Republicans.
Netanyahu not only spit venom against Obama’s Iran diplomacy, but also suggested widening of the scope of the deal to nullify the “aggressive” regional posture of Iran. The Obama administration immediately rejected his remark on Iran as baseless. However, Netanyahu, who apprehended threat on Israel’s existence on Iran becoming armed with nuclear weapons, desisted from calling for any new sanctions against Iran. He also did not emphasize a total rollback of nuclear programme of Iran, which was a signal of Israel being prepared to resign to fate.
Netanyahu’s speech was the culmination of a political storm generated on his accepting Republican invitation in January for the speech. Many, especially the Democrats, viewed the Netanyahu’s move as an affront to President Obama who declined to meet Netanyahu on the pretext that meeting him ahead of the March 17 elections in Israel could be taken as interference. Nancy Pelosi, house Democratic leader, termed the speech as an insult to the U.S. intelligence, and added that she was almost in tears to listen to Netanyahu’s remarks on the knowledge of the U.S government on Iranian issues. Out of the total 232 Democrats, as many as 60 boycotted the speech, and their absence was striking as usually the Congress remained united in its approach towards the security of Israel. Netanyahu was greeted with cheers and handshaking on his entering the chamber, and he tried to diffuse the political storm generated on his acceptance of the Republican’s invitation for the speech. At the outset, he expressed his gratitude towards Obama for his private and public support to Israel, and the U.S. contributions to the Iron Dome anti-missile system of Israel.
Iran has time and again has denied having nuclear arsenal designs, while Israel is supposed to be the only country possessing nuclear weapons in the region