Obama hits back at Netanyahu
The US president, Barack Obama, said yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had offered no “viable alternative” to the current negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said he saw Netanyahu’s speech and later read the transcript.
“There was nothing new,” said Obama about Netanyahu’s speech, in line with the Prime Minister’s statement that “no one can doubt” that the Iranian regime “has repeatedly threatened Israel.” According to Obama, regarding the “central issue” which is how to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Netanyahu “offered no viable alternatives” to the current negotiations.
Obama recalled that there are existing sanctions that have “forced” Iran to negotiate and that during an average year of conversations, Tehran “froze” its nuclear program and has undergone inspections not seen before.
The sanctions alone are “not enough” and if the only alternative is not to reach an agreement, the risk that Iran can “immediately begin to accelerate its nuclear program” exists, said the president. “Let’s wait until there really is a deal on the table. We need not speculate,” Obama added.
Netanyahu’s speech, the third of its kind that he pronounced as Israeli prime minister before the full Congress, has generated much controversy, since he was invited directly by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, without informing the White House.
In fact, while Israeli Prime Minister intervened before Congress, the president was participating in a video conference with several European leaders on the situation in Ukraine.
US Vice President Joe Biden, the Senate’s President, was not present at the Capitol because he was traveling in Guatemala, while fifty Democrats previously announced they would boycott the speech.
In parallel to the controversial speech made by Netanyahu, Iran and the United States resumed Tuesday in Geneva a series of bilateral meetings in order to advance the negotiations and reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the end of this month.
An understanding between Iran and the United States is seen as critical to the closure of a global agreement between the Government of Iran and the group of powers known as the G5 + 1 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, plus Germany), who have imposed a term that expires at the end of June to negotiate with Iran.
However, the parties have said they expect to reach a preliminary political agreement that outlines the core elements of an agreement later this month.
On its part, Iran called Netanyahu’s speech “a show full of deceit” and part of the propaganda of the “extremists from Tel Aviv”.
The spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Marzie Afjam said that “Netanyahu’s Iranophobia statements are part of the electoral propaganda of extremists in Tel Aviv,” the Iranian state news agency reported.
To Afjam, the speech of the head of the Israeli government is a “sign of weakness” and “isolation of the radical groups”. He also argued that Netanyahu’s “lies” regarding Iran’s intentions on the nuclear issue are “very repeated and boring”.