Netanyahu prefers scrapping Iran deal over fixing it


(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Iran nuclear deal must be amended or canceled, but suggested that scrapping the deal may be preferable.

“Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple — change it or cancel it, fix it or nix it,” Netanyahu said Tuesday, addressing the launch of this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Netanyahu appeared to favor the cancel option, saying he “couldn’t agree more” with Donald Trump when the U.S. president said earlier from the same podium that the deal is an “embarrassment to the United States.”

The Israeli leader said canceling the deal would simply mean a return to massive sanctions as a means of pressure on Iran. The 2015 deal, negotiated by the Obama administration, traded sanctions relief for a rollback to Iran’s nuclear option.

Defenders of the deal say it would be near impossible to re-establish the international sanctions regime that brought Iran to the negotiating table.

Fixing the deal, Netanyahu said, would mean broadly expanding the number of sites available for impromptu visits by international nuclear inspectors, immediate penalties for any violations of the deal and ending the “sunset” clause — the restrictions on Iran that begin to lapse within the next decade.

Netanyahu said Iran’s rulers should be wary of their constant threats against Israel.

“Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in peril,” he said.

Netanyahu also said that Israel would not allow a permanent Iranian presence in Syria, where Iran is aligned with the Assad regime in suppressing a civil war that has raged for more than six years.

Recommended from JTA