Fix or nix the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu demands ahead of Trump meeting

Fix or nix the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu demands ahead of Trump meeting
  1. Fix or nix the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu demands ahead of Trump meeting
    The Israeli prime minister is expected to push for changes to the deal at the U.N. General…
    Middle Easte

JERUSALEM — The Iranian nuclear deal is “bad” and needs to be fixed or canceled, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said ahead of a visit to the United States, where he is expected to meet President Trump and push for changes.

An Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the discussions, said the government’s main point of contention is the so-called “sunset clause,” which sets expiration dates on limits imposed on Iran’s nuclear program.

Changes to those provisions are among several demands Netanyahu will present to Trump during their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, according to a report Wednesday on Israel’s Army Radio.

Israel’s opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal is nothing new, but analysts say Netanyahu likely sees a new window of opportunity to change it. Global concern over North Korea’s nuclear program is mounting, while Trump has repeatedly signaled a desire to kill the Iran deal. 

The new impetus comes as Israel nervously watches Iran, and its proxy force Hezbollah, build its presence in neighboring Syria, where they are fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Netanyahu has accused Iran of building sites to produce missiles in both Syria and Lebanon.

“Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” Netanyahu said in Argentina on Tuesday night as he toured South America before traveling to New York for the General Assembly.

According to the agreement’s “sunset clause,” Iran will be able to increase the number of its operating centrifuges beyond the current limit of 5,060 after 10 years. Israel would like to see this time frame extended or made indefinite.

Other restrictions, including a 300-kilogram cap on Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium, last 15 years.

Netanyahu has spoken often about how the agreement in its current format reduces the breakout time for Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. After 10 years, he has said, this breakout time will have shrunk to zero.

According to the Army Radio report, Netanyahu will also ask Trump to prevent Iran from conducting research in the nuclear field and developing advanced-stage centrifuges, with much higher power.

In addition, the report said, Israel will demand that Iran cease developing long-range missiles and add a clause limiting Iran’s support of organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, that Israel and the United States consider terrorist groups.

Spokesmen for the Foreign Ministry and prime minister’s office refused to confirm whether Netanyahu would raise these issues with Trump. But Yaakov Nagel, former director of Israel’s National Security Council, said in a radio interview that these demands are nothing new and are in keeping with Israel’s position from the beginning of negotiations over the deal.

“Israel has not changed its position,” said Nagel. “Even when the agreement was signed, we said there were three or four clauses that were really bad. The deal that exists basically gives Iran the right to develop uranium.”

Trump must inform Congress every 90 days about whether Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement. The next update is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Earlier this month, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that Trump has grounds to declare Iran noncompliant, raising speculation about whether he intends to keep the deal.

Trump has also slammed the agreement, which was reached two years ago between Iran on one side and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany on the other. It gave Iran relief from nuclear-related eco…

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