The Slatest

Netanyahu on Agreement With Iran: I’m Trying to Kill a Bad Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on Nov. 18, 2014, in Jerusalem.

Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on the Sunday talk shows to make it clear that he is going to be increasing pressure on Washington and urging President Obama to improve the deal with Iran. Although Netanyahu avoided saying that any agreement should recognize Israel’s right to exist, he did warn that the White House was helping to give Iran “a free path to the bomb.” It’s not that he’s opposed to any agreement with Iran, Netanyahu said, but he insisted that world powers have to increase “the pressure until you get a better deal.”

“I’m not trying to kill any deal. I’m trying to kill a bad deal,” Netanyahu told NBC’s Meet the Press. The current plan “leaves the pre-eminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure.” Netanyahu expanded on this point on CNN, saying that the preliminary agreement “does not roll back Iran’s nuclear program … Not a single nuclear facility is shut down.” The deal would also give Iran quick relief from sanctions that it could then use to fund its “terror machine worldwide,” Netanyahu said on ABC News.

Netanyahu’s U.S. TV tour on Sunday “signaled the launch of what is expected to be a furious lobbying effort to scuttle or reshape a deal that he has criticized as ‘bad’ and a threat to Israel’s very existence,” notes the Associated Press. In summary:

Netanyahu believes the deal leaves too much of Iran’s suspect nuclear program intact, would give it quick relief from economic sanctions and create an easy path for the Islamic Republic to gain the ability to produce a bomb. He also says the deal fails to address Iran’s support for militant groups across the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein warned that Netanyahu’s strategy “can backfire on him” and called on the prime minister to “contain himself.” For his part, Republican Sen. Bob Corker told Fox News that he is going to insist on a bill that would give Congress a say on the agreement. “The American people want to know somebody is teasing out the information,”  Corker said. “Congress has to be involved in this way.”