Israel slams Iran nuclear deal

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Israel said Sunday that a nuclear deal struck Sunday between Iran and world powers in Geneva was “bad” as Tehran had obtained “what it wanted”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“This is a bad agreement that gives Iran what it wanted: the partial lifting of sanctions while maintaining an essential part of its nuclear programme,” said a statement published a few hours after the historic agreement was reached in the Swiss city.

Israel is not bound by a nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers in Geneva on Sunday and has a right to self-defence, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also said.

“Israel is not engaged by the Geneva accord,” Bennett, the leader of a far-right party, told a military radio station. “Iran is threatening Israel and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

The Israelis’ views contradicted the optimism of US Secretary of State, John Kerry who believed the Geneva deal will help “make Israel safer”.

“The comprehensive agreement will make the world safer … and Israel safer,” Kerry told reporters.

Ahead of the deal, Israel had issued repeated broadsides, warning that any easing of sanctions against Iran could enable it to acquire atomic weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — whose country is widely assumed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed nation — has refused to rule out military action against its arch rival.

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Kerry said Netanyahu — “a friend of mine” — had been kept abreast of the state of play in the talks, which kicked off Wednesday.

“I talk to him several times a week,” he said. “I talked to him in the last day about this very issue.”

Any differences between the United States and Israel on the issue were simply a matter of “judgement” and “calculation”, Kerry insisted.

“There is no difference whatsoever between the US and Israel of what the end goal is — that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon,” he added.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful, and rejects Western claims that its uranium enrichment shows it is on a thinly-disguised quest for atomic weapons.

Throwing the ball into Tehran’s court, Kerry said it should be a simple matter for Iran to prove its critics wrong.

“It ought to be really easy to do the things that other nations do that enrich,” he said. “To prove it.”