During a Pentagon press conference on Thursday, President Obama told reporters that the controversial Iranian nuclear deal was now supported by Israel. “Israeli military and security community … acknowledges this has been a game changer,” Obama said. “The country that was most opposed to the deal.”
But Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said that wasn’t true. In a statement released Friday, he expressed that the United States has been Israel’s greatest ally but made it clear that the Jewish state’s position “remains unchanged.”
In a statement to the Times of Israel, a top minister in Netanyahu’s office was even more direct on the subject. “I can promise you that the position of the prime minister, the defense minister and of most senior officials in the defense establishment has not changed,” Tzachi Hanegbi said. “The opposite is the case. The time that has elapsed since the deal was signed proved all our worries that, regrettably, we were justified before the deal was made.”
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The Israeli Defense Ministry issued its own statement Friday, comparing the Iran deal to the 1938 Munich Agreement. “The Munich Agreement didn’t prevent the Second World War and the Holocaust precisely because its basis, according to which Nazi Germany could be a partner for some sort of agreement, was flawed, and because the leaders of the world then ignored the explicit statements of [Adolf] Hitler and the rest of Nazi Germany’s leaders,” the ministry said. “These things are also true about Iran, which also clearly states openly that its aim is to destroy the state of Israel.”
The agreement reached last summer with Iran was an attempt to stop the Middle Eastern country’s development of nuclear weapons in return for relief from sanctions. But high-level officials in Israel were concerned about the multitude of defense challenges and the continued anti-Israeli rhetoric from Tehran.
Iran has already violated the U.N. agreement in a number of ways. One major contention point is that the country keeps testing ballistic missiles even though actions like that were supposed to be prohibited under the deal. Iran also has a history of supporting terror groups, which raises additional concerns if the country were to acquire nuclear weapons.
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The nuclear agreement “removes the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program based on dates certain, rather than on changes in Iran’s aggressive behavior, including its support for terrorism around the world. The deal doesn’t solve the Iranian nuclear problem, but rather delays and intensifies it,” a senior Israeli official said in July.
Obama has been under attack recently concerning a secret shipment of $400 million to Iran in January, which the administration says was sent to pay back Tehran for a failed arms deal that occurred decades ago. Many Republicans, including presidential nominee Donald Trump, have pointed to the timing of the cash shipment, which coincided with Iran’s release of four U.S. hostages, as an indication that it was a ransom payment.
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