Near deal with Iran is ‘bad and dangerous,’ Netanyahu says

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal on the table between the world powers and Iran “bad and dangerous.”

“It is dangerous not just for us, it is also dangerous for them [the world powers],” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the Cabinet meeting. “It is dangerous for world peace because it lowers the pressure of sanctions that took years to build while on the other hand, Iran, in practice, retains its nuclear enrichment capability as well as the ability to advance along the plutonium track.”

Netanyahu’s warning came hours after the announcement in Geneva that a final bargaining session that started late Saturday night and stretched into early Sunday morning failed to produce a deal. The sides announced that negotiations will continue in 10 days, citing the need to overcome differences.

Iran is negotiating with the P5+1 world powers, which refers to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain — plus Germany, which are  negotiating with Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program.

France objected to the deal, saying it would not slow Iran’s nuclear enrichment.

Under the proposed deal, Iran would freeze its nuclear program for six months in exchange for some easing of international sanctions while continuing to negotiate a long-term agreement.

Netanyahu has called on  Iran to close the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor, which is capable of enriching uranium to weapons grade, and give up all enrichment of uranium, not just the 20 percent that is an issue in the negotiations.

A delegation of U.S. officials led by Wendy Sherman, the lead negotiator for the Americans in Geneva, is scheduled to visit Jerusalem on Sunday to update Netanyahu and his Cabinet on the talks, Haaretz reported. Sherman, the U.S. undersecretary for political affairs, is Jewish.

Netanyahu reportedly spoke over the weekend with President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron and and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as French President Francois Hollande, whose country opposed the deal, and asked them not to sign the pact with Iran.

The proposed deal and the U.S. handling of the situation reportedly have soured the relationship between Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, according to Israeli media.

“I want to caution everyone from jumping to conclusions or believing premature reports or prejudging outcomes or, particularly, believing either rumors or other little parcels of information that somebody portends to know or that leak out,” Kerry said in Geneva shortly after the talks ended. “The fact is that the negotiations are actually taking place enormously privately.

“I would emphasize also that the window for diplomacy does not stay open indefinitely, and we will continue working to find a peaceful solution because we believe that forceful diplomacy is a powerful enough weapon to be able to actually defuse the world’s most threatening weapons of mass destruction.”

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