Israeli prime minister urges strong nuclear deal with Iran as negotiations begin

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John Kerry,Iran,Israel,National Security,PennAve,United Nations,Benjamin Netanyahu,Nuclear Weapons,Zack Colman,Sanctions

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored the United States and other world leaders to insist on a strong deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program.

Netanyahu, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said negotiators should aim to model the long-term Iranian deal currently being discussed in Vienna on the Syrian chemical weapons disarmament pact. Anything short of that, he argued, could lead to eventual proliferation of nuclear weapons to radical Islamist groups that have ties to the Iranian regime.

"Replicate the Syrian deal where the capability to make the weapon was dismantled and then removed," Netanyahu said of the United Nations-brokered agreement. "That's a good deal. That would be good."

Officials from the U.S., United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany are meeting with Iranian officials to hammer out a permanent nuclear deal by a July 20 deadline, building on a short-term pact inked last year.

The U.S. and others are trying to persuade Iran into concessions in exchange for lifting tough sanctions that have handicapped its economy. But, speaking to reporters in Vienna on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that, "Obviously, we have some very significant gaps still."

Iranian officials insist their nuclear program is for civilian purposes, and that it is not attempting to build weapons.

"I think what we have said should give confidence to people that we're not looking for nuclear weapons. We have said that our entire nuclear energy program can fit in a very clear and well-defined picture; that is, we want to produce fuel for our own nuclear reactor, nuclear power reactor," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press".

Netanyahu said that's bogus.

"It's a joke. of course they're developing nuclear weapons," he said. "This is a sham. i don't think anybody could take this seriously."

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