(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the United States to reject a deal that reportedly would ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for limiting uranium enrichment to 3.5 percent purity.
Netanyahu said Israel “utterly rejects” the deal, details of which were reported Thursday in Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
“Israel is not obliged by this agreement and will do everything it needs to defend itself, to defend the security of its people,” he said prior to a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry cut short a Middle East trip to travel to Geneva Friday in a bid to “narrow the difference in negotiations” between the major powers and Iran.
According to the Telegraph, the deal under discussion would require Iran to stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level and turn its existing stockpile into harmless oxide. But it would be permitted to enrich to the 3.5 percent purity needed for nuclear energy.
In exchange, Iran would reportedly receive limited sanctions relief.
Netanyahu said Friday that he told Kerry during a meeting in Israel that “no deal is better than a bad one” ahead of Kerry’s departure for Geneva, where the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany are negotiating with Iran.
“The deal being discussed in Geneva is a bad one, a very bad deal,” Netanyahu said. Under the deal
“Iran is not required to dismantle even a single centrifuge, yet the international community is easing sanctions for the first time in many years. Iran is getting everything it wanted at this stage but is giving nothing in return at a time when it is under heavy pressure,” Netanyahu added.
“I call on Secretary Kerry not to rush and sign but wait and re-evaluate to get a better deal,” Netanyahu said.
An unnamed U.S. Senate aide, citing briefings from the White House, the State Department and sources in Geneva, told the Telegraph that in addition to the 3.5-percent limit, Iran would agree to limit the number of centrifuges being used for this purpose.
Iran would also agree not to use its more advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium between three and five times faster than an older model, but would be under no requirement to remove or disable any other centrifuges.
Additionally, under the deal Iran would agree to a six-month freeze in some activities at its reactor at Arak.