Netanyahu asks international community to insist on better Iran deal

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community to insist on a better deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Netanyahu made a public statement Wednesday from the Prime Minister’s Office as negotiations between Iran and the world powers resumed in Lausanne, Switzerland after being extended by a day past the March 31 deadline to reach a framework agreement.

“Evidently giving Iran’s murderous regime a clear path to the bomb is negotiable,” Netanyahu said, in reference to a declaration made Tuesday in which the commander of Iran’s Basij militia, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, stated that “Israel’s destruction is non-negotiable.”

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Netanyahu called allowing Iran to keep underground nuclear facilities, advanced centrifuges and a heavy water reactor “unconscionable” and pointed out that at the same time that this is being negotiated “Iran is accelerating its campaign of terror, subjugation and conquest throughout the region, most recently in Yemen.”

“The concessions offered to Iran in Lausanne would ensure a bad deal that would endanger Israel, the Middle East and the peace of the world. Now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal,” Netanyahu said.

A better deal, he said, would “significantly roll back” Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and link the lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to a change in Iran’s behavior.

“Iran must stop its aggression in the region, stop its terrorism throughout the world and stop its threats to annihilate Israel. That should be non-negotiable and that’s the deal that the world powers must insist upon,” Netanyahu said.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Marie Harf, told reporters on Tuesday that the talks would be extended past that day’s deadline for a framework agreement. The deadline for a comprehensive deal is June.

“‎We’ve made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday,” Harf told reporters. “There are several difficult issues still remaining.”

There reportedly are a few sticking points to a deal, including the pace of lifting the sanctions on Iran, whether sanctions automatically will return if Iran violates the deal, whether Iran ships its nuclear fuel for processing outside the country, what to do with Iran’s existing stockpile of fissile material, and the degree to which Iran must open up its nuclear facilities to international inspectors.