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Netanyahu admits ‘profound’ rift with US over Iran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP photo)

Israel has owned to harboring a “profound disagreement” with the United States over efforts to strike a definitive nuclear accord with Iran.

"We do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1” over the prospect of a permanent nuclear agreement with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying on Tuesday.

The P5+1 group of world powers, namely Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, are seeking to seal a high-profile political deal by the end of March and to confirm the full technical details of the accord by July 1.

Netanyahu claimed that a potential such deal "would enable Iran to threaten Israel's survival."

"It (Iran) would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction," the Israeli premier alleged.

Iran strongly rejects the allegations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says it needs the nuclear program for peaceful purposes, including generating electricity and producing radio-isotopes for medical purposes.


Obama: Same here

US President Barack Obama has likewise said he has sharp differences with Netanyahu on the Iranian nuclear issue, warning him against souring the ongoing negotiations with Tehran by visiting Washington, DC next month.

Last month, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak about imposing further sanctions against Iran at a joint session of Congress.

"I don't want to be coy. The [Israeli] prime minister and I have a very real difference around Iran's sanctions," Obama said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House on Monday.

 "I have been very clear -- Angela agrees with me, and [British Prime Minister] David Cameron agrees with me, and the others who are a member of the negotiations agree that it does not make sense to sour the negotiations a month or two before they're about to be completed and we should play that out. If, in fact, we can get a deal, then we should embrace that," Obama said in response to a question.

Obama has refused to meet Netanyahu during his trip to Washington next month, saying diplomatic protocol forbade him from doing so, as the Israeli premier is fighting for re-election on March 17.

Top Obama administration officials and members of the Democratic Party are also angry at Netanyahu over his acceptance of the invitation without coordinating with Obama.

Over a dozen congressional Democrats say they would skip Netanyahu’s speech before Congress amid reports that he might withdraw from the planned address, the Washington-based The Hill newspaper reported on Monday.


Netanyahu: I am going anyway 

Netanyahu said, "I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the president, but because I must fulfil my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival” of Israel.

The Israeli prime minister, however, said, "This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields."

"Equally, I know that the president appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel," Netanyahu said.


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