Netanyahu: Talks delay is opportunity to improve bad Iran deal


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the delay in achieving an expected deal between Iran and the major Western powers was an opportunity to better its terms.

“Israel is united in opposition to the deal being offered to Iran,” he told the Knesset on Monday. “We are speaking in a clear and unequivocal voice. The time that was achieved over the weekend must be utilized to achieve a much better deal.”

France, one of the six major powers, helped over the weekend to scuttle a proposed deal to ease sanctions in exchange for Iran’s rolling back its nuclear programs, although there reportedly were reservations among other nations.

Wendy Sherman, the third-ranking official at the State Department and the U.S. team leader in the Geneva negotiations, flew Sunday night to Israel to brief Netanyahu on the talks, which will resume later this month.

No one has made public the terms of the proposed deal, but reports suggest there would be some easing of economic pressure if Iran caps its uranium enrichment at 3.5 percent, well below the amount needed for weaponization.

Leading congressional lawmakers insist that Iran first abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions requiring a complete suspension of uranium enrichment before the major powers concede anything.

Netanyahu is demanding that any final status deal include a permanent end to uranium enrichment.

France’s problem with the deal reportedly had to do with a separate matter — a heavy water reactor that could produce plutonium, which like enriched uranium could fuel a nuclear device.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who over the weekend attended the Geneva talks, said Netanyahu and others should hold fire until the parameters of a deal are known.

“Well, I’m not sure that the Prime Minister, who I have great respect for, knows exactly what the amount or the terms are going to be because we haven’t arrived at them all yet,” Kerry said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That’s what we’re negotiating.”

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