Obama counter-trashes Netanyahu's criticism of Iran deal
US President Barack Obama did not meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or speak to him but did respond to the Israeli leader’s criticism of his Iran initiative, saying latter said “nothing new”.world Updated: Mar 04, 2015 20:57 IST
US President Barack Obama did not meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or speak to him but did respond to the Israeli leader’s criticism of his Iran initiative, saying latter said “nothing new”.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu made almost the precise same speech about how dangerous that deal was going to be” when the Iran deal was initiated a year ago, said the President.
In an 11-minute rebuttal to Netanyahu’s 45-minutes address to a joint session of US congress on Tuesday, Obama said the Prime Pinister had offered no “viable alternative” to his initiative.
The President then said, to critics at home and abroad, “if it's a deal I’ve signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon”.
The Israeli leader had criticized Obama’s Iran initiative saying it left much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact, and it paved the way for its weaponization, instead of stopping it.
The only deal acceptable to Israel, the Prime Minister said, was one that stopped both Iran’s aggression in the neighbourhood and support of terrorism and ended its threat to annihilate Israel.
The speech, which was frequently interrupted by applause and cheering, mostly from Republican lawmakers, was widely taken as a new depth in relations between the two allies.
The two leaders share a testy relationship, and Netanyahu’s speech, at the invitation of Republican speaker of the House was seen as an attempt by him to exploit DC’s partisan politics.
Obama refused to meet him — saying, officially, US didn’t want to take sides in Israeli elections, just days away — and vice president Joe Biden and secretary of state John Kerry left town.
Some Democrats stayed away from the speech, and a few of those who attended took a very dim view of Netanyahu’s public flogging of the initiative, which was underway in Geneva.
“I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech,” Democratic minatory leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”