Netanyahu, Obama have contentious conversation about Iran deal


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a contentious phone call after the major world powers achieved a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

Netanyahu in a statement said he raised two objections to the deal in the phone call on Tuesday.

“One, the agreement allows Iran to develop extensive capabilities that will serve it in arming itself with nuclear weapons whether at the end of the period of the agreement in another 10-15 years, or earlier if it violates the agreement,” the statement said.

“Two, the agreement channels hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran’s terrorism and war machine, a war that is directed against us and against others in the region.”

Netanyahu’s statement said twice that the desire by the major powers to reach an agreement was “stronger than anything else,” although it did not say whether Netanyahu made this accusation directly to Obama in their conversation.

The White House also released an account of the phone call saying that Obama told Netanyahu the deal would “verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.” He also told Netanyahu that the U.S. defense secretary, Ashton Carter, would visit Israel next week.

The visit, the White House statement said, “is a reflection of the unprecedented level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel, and that the visit offers a further opportunity to continue our close consultation on security issues with Israeli counterparts as we remain vigilant in countering the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

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