Israeli defense officials reportedly oppose changing Iran deal


(JTA) — Israel’s intelligence community opposes the drastic changes sought by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, according to a report.

Several sources, who were not named, told the Haaretz daily that the defense establishment in Israel does not agree with the demand articulated by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman that President Donald Trump scrap or revise the deal, the daily reported Friday.

On Thursday, Trump waived nuclear sanctions on Iran in compliance with the deal, but warned that he could take dramatic action on the deal as early as next month. Thursday was the deadline for Trump to waive sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear sector, according to the pact negotiated by six world powers, led by the United States, and Iran.

The agreement offers Iran sanctions relief for rolling back some elements of its nuclear program until 2025.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One that the deal was “one of the worst” and he planned on addressing it soon.

“The spirit of the deal is just atrociously kept, but the Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country,” he said. “It’s a deal that should have never, ever been made. And you’ll see what we’re doing in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be in October.”

On Tuesday, Netanyahu denied claims made to Reuters by a U.S. official who said Israel wishes to avoid changes to the deal, which Netanyahu condemned as “paving Iran’s path nuclear weapons.” The issue was a major point of contention between Netanyahu and former President Barack Obama, who led efforts to seal the deal.

Israel maintains that the United States should either “revise or scrap the deal,” Netanyahu said.

But senior officials told Haaretz that Israel’s intelligence community has identified no Iranian violations of the deal. Several officials said they feared an Iranian nuclear breakout — meaning a concentrated effort to obtain offensive capabilities – if the deal is scrapped.

“As in the United States, there is a disagreement on this issue in Israel,” one senior defense official told Haaretz. “Netanyahu and Liberman may share the same position on the deal, but the defense establishment does not share this view, necessarily.”

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