Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the U.S. against making a partial deal with Iran to freeze its nuclear program saying any easing of sanctions would be hard to ratchet up again if Tehran does not comply with the interim agreement.
With Secretary of State John Kerry set to resume talks with its western allies and Iran Wednesday, Netanyahu said any interim deal that involves easing sanctions on Iran would reduce the pressure just at the time when it's most needed.
“I think the problem with a partial deal is that you reduce the sanctions, and in this case ... you let out a lot of pressure,” he told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday on “State of the Union.” “And Iran is practically giving away nothing. It's making minor concessions, which they can reverse in weeks, and you endanger the whole sanctions regime that took years to make.”
Under the deal’s blueprint, if Iran drops its level of enrichment from 20 percent to 3 percent, the U.S. would lift some sanctions for a six-month period while it confirms Tehran’s compliance. But the U.S. would keep the most severe sanctions in place until Iran addresses international fears that it is trying to develop nuclear-weapons capability.
Several Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed skepticism over a potential short-term deal that would offer limited, temporary sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for Tehran freezing elements of its nuclear-energy program.
With the fragile negotiations hanging in the balance, Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden tried to quell the criticism on Capitol Hill over the last week in private meetings with lawmakers.
Afterward, many lawmakers remained unconvinced and said they would push for an additional round of sanctions in order to step up pressure on the Iranians as negotiations reach a crucial point this week.
Netanyahu said the deal under consideration does not require enough of Iran and said an additional round of sanctions would be helpful in showing other countries and businesses that they must take sides in the dispute.
While he said he respects President Obama and the two have a “common goal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” he said the U.S. is not requiring enough from Iran.
“They have 18,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium to make the core of a bomb,” he said. “They’re not giving up even one centrifuge ... not one. So they’re keeping their capacity.”
On Friday, Obama said the U.S. and its allies will have lost nothing if Iran ends up failing to comply with a preliminary agreement and the sanctions could be increased again quite easily.
“We will have lost nothing in the end, if at the end of the day, it turns out that they are not prepared to provide the international community the hard proof and assurances necessary for us to know that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon,” Obama said at a news conference.
“If it turns out six months from now that they’re not serious, we can crank – we can dial those sanctions right back up,” he later added.
Netanyahu strongly disagreed. If any significant sanctions are lifted, the entire international agreement to boycott Iranian business could come crashing down, he argued.
“You’re going to see investors, companies, and countries scrambling one after the other to try to get deals with Iran because economies and prices work on future expectations,” he said.
“If you took all that pressure, all these years to build up the sanctions regime and it’s finally working, it’s finally getting there and Iran is really on the ropes, their economy is close to paralysis, and all of a sudden you take off the pressure, everybody will understand that you’re heading south, you’re going to really be in danger of crumbling the sanctions regime.”